Thursday, September 27, 2012

Alvord Desert - Grandma's Final Resting Place

Over Labor Day Weekend, we laid my Grandma to rest on the family property she and my Grandpa bought at Alvord Desert on Serrano Point over 20 years ago.  She and my Grandpa had been coming over to Alvord Desert for years and camping at Frog Spring and riding dirt bikes.They finally were able to purchase a piece of their paradise. After my grandpa died, a year after they bought the property, Grandma had a large 5th wheel trailer on a cement slab and a well put in. That is the white thing in the foreground.  This is just part of the gorgeous view from the spot where we buried her ashes next to Grandpa's. 

Hailey and I riding the "Grizzly". Thank you, Billy, for letting us borrow it! We spent the weekend riding around to all our favorite spots. 

Josiah rode the Murray, a go-cart. It was perfect for him since top speed was 20 miles an hour. He literally plowed his way through the alkaline pockets and sand. He had a ball! He road 42 miles one day. Michael was behind him on the dirt bike.

One of our favorite stops is Serrano Springs where there are parts of an old homestead left. It was a sod house.

Michael and my step-dad, Larry, examining the construction of the house.

Hailey sitting "inside" the house.

We found a barn owl nest in the trees. We collected owl pellets and feathers that had fallen on the ground. We plan on dissecting the owl pellets at a later date.  

Larry and Mom on the edge of the huge dry lake bed.

Josiah was lovin' the Murray. I think he liked being in control of his own vehicle.

 Partial view of Steens Mountain from the dry lake bed. I can't even describe how beautiful it is. There was a lot of smoke and dust in the air when we were there so we didn't get to see it in all its glory this time.

Alvord Hot Springs. Who says the desert isn't beautiful?

On Saturday, my Uncle Dave and his wife, Jocelyn, came over from their place in Christmas Valley in his Jeep. We all rode over on our ATVs, dirt bikes and Jeep to an old agate mine where there are still some gorgeous agates you can pick up. We gathered enough to put over the graves of Grandma, Grandpa and also for a memorial to Larry's dad who died this summer.  

Uncle Dave brought this stone up to the grave sites with his Jeep. My mom's best friend, Debbie, who visits the desert every year with my mom, had this memorial stone made. It has a dirt bike etched in the top of the stone with "Rest in Peace Upon this Land, In Remembrance of Love Ones" and had their names and birth and death dates etched on it as well. My grandma was riding her dirt bike into her 70s. I can't tell you what this meant to our family.

After we buried the ashes and covered them with agates, Uncle Dave said a prayer.

Josiah and Hailey standing behind the grave stone with Grandpa buried to the left and Grandma to the right. Their grave site has a 360 degree view that includes the dry lake bed, Serrano Point, the Pueblo Mountains and Steens Mountain. I couldn't think of a more perfect place for ashes to rest.

After we buried them, we all headed to the beloved Alvord Hot Springs where we hung out, soaked and played. It was the perfect end to the day and I know Grandma and Grandpa would have been so pleased with their dust-covered memorial service attendees, representing three generations. They would have been so pleased to know the property is being loved and enjoyed by their decedents. 

Rest in Peace, Grandma and Grandpa. We will always remember you and love you. Thank you for the living memorial you gave us as we enjoy the land. 

Your Grateful Granddaughter,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Josiah's WWI-Themed 9th Birthday Party

Whew, this was the trickiest themed birthday party I've ever done. When Josiah told me he wanted a WWI themed birthday, I had no idea how I was going to pull it off. We did some research and came up with some fun things to do. Josiah always loves to wear his kilt, so he was happy to represent the Scottish soldiers in the British army during the Great War. He was fortunate to learn all about them a couple weeks before when saw the WWI 15th Scottish Division reenactors at the 2012 Celtic Festival. As always, we like to incorporate homeschooling into everything we do!

We turned our wall tent into a Red Cross field hospital, draping cots with wool blankets.

As the guest arrived, my friend's daughter, Riley, represented a "Salvation Army Doughnut Girl". They became famous for keeping up the morale of WWI soldiers by serving doughnuts and coffee. 

We found the original Doughnut Girl recipe. They got creative when making them, using whatever was available to cut them out, even coffee peculator tubes for the small holes. We used a large mouth canning jar, then a shot glass to cut the hole.  We even used lard to cook them in and they were delicious.

Josiah and I put together a display about the Salvation Army Doughnut Girls. Sometimes the girls didn't have a kettle to cook them in, so they used a helmet. We didn't cook them in a helmet, but we served them in one! Riley did such a good job :)

Red Cross field hospital. I love the little details the kids came up with themselves. Josiah has a glass bottle collection, which actually came in handy as medicine bottles. 

My friend, Carrie, helped rip up some old sheets and splatter some red dye on them. I showed the guests how to roll the bandages at the party before the trench warfare started.

Busily rolling bandages.

We set up some straw bales facing each other and used a bunch of tomato cages in "No Man's Land" to represent the barbed wire obstacle they would have faced. We had a whole bunch of water balloons that looked like grenades, squirt guns and water grenade soakers. We split them into two teams and let them loose.
It was a nice hot day for it!

After the battle, the walking wounded came into the Red Cross to get patched up by the pretty nurses. 

They thought they looked pretty cool with their "war wounds".

After the battle, we had a quick lesson in WWI weapons and learned about Sergeant York. Our friend brought his collection and let the kids carefully hold the weapons so they could see just how heavy they really were.

Josiah helped me make a display about WWI's most decorated American soldier, Sergeant (Allen)York. What an amazing man. I would highly encourage you to read up on him. Our friend did a great job telling the kids about him.

This little guy was wearing his WWI great-grandfather's actual Doughboy uniform. He looked amazing and it was nice for everyone to see what an American WWI uniform really looked, smelled and felt like.

Mom was a Red Cross nurse. She and Larry made the homemade, hand-cranked ice cream.

I made beans and bacon. WWI soldiers complained of how much they had to eat beans. There were a lot of jokes about it. If they were lucky they might get a piece of rancid pork or beef with it. I was kinder to my guests :)

The bakery humored me and made a plain battlefield cake with two trenches. 

Josiah made a WWI trench battle scene on it.

It was nice that Josiah was old enough to ready his cards by himself this year.

He got all kinds of neat things, but his favorite was the plastic practice sword he got from our friends, Billy and Kay. Billy is getting one, too, and is going to teach Josiah proper sword fighting techniques. Too fun! 

So, the WWI party came together better than I expected and I was quite happy with the results, thanks to the help of friends and family, especially my friend, Carrie who came the night before with her boys. I was so blessed to have her there to help me with all the little details. 

So Happy 9th Birthday, Josiah! I can't believe I'm half way done raising you. It is going much too fast! I'm so pleased with the young man you are becoming. May God continue to bless, keep and grow you during the next 9 years you are in our home. Love you so much! As I always say, "God made one Josiah, and we got 'im!"


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Celtic Festival - 2012

The 2012 Celtic Festival (last weekend of Aug) was so much fun. It was twice the size as last year and I can see it just getting bigger every year. Thanks to our community's support and many volunteers hours, the festival was a success! Here is our family, complete with my MIL, Kay, who was a huge help to me since Michael worked security all weekend. We are all wearing the Clan Lamont tartan, which is where my husband's surname comes from. 

Since we decided to do a clan tent this year, we camped for two days at the fairgrounds. We set up the wall tent behind our clan tent. It worked out great. Our friend, Billy, put together this display board for our clan. He did such a great job! I also put my sword collection out on either side of the tent (can only see one sword in this pic). Next year I want to add clan boards for both of my clans (Clan MacRae on my father's side and Clan Fraser on my dad's side). 

We bought some flags to fly from our clan tent and for the kids to hold in the clan parade Saturday morning.

Josiah got a history lesson as he talked with the Clan Mackinnon representative. 

Michael with his friend, Patrick. He is wearing my favorite basket hilt claymore sword.

Me in my Civil War dress (I re-purposed into a Celtic dress by adding a bodice over the shirt I got at a yard sale for only $2), Michael in his kilt and Hailey wearing her "Merida" dress from the movie "Brave".

Josiah was so excited wear a a t-shirt that said "STAFF" on the back. He helped with the ceilidh Friday night. He was thrilled to be able to help. Although I'm not sure how much help he was when he thought he would be fire-conscious and blow all nine pilot lights out on the burners in the kitchen!   

The entertainment was fantastic! There were a bunch of Celtic bands, but our favorite by far was the homeschooled "Gothard Sisters". These gals were quality and fascinating to watch.

Not only are they world class Irish step dancers...

...they are excellent musicians, writing much of their own material. They play a variety of instruments, and to top it all off, they sing!

Hailey and her friend, Hannah, found a "stage" and pretended to be the Gothard Sisters. They were so fun to watch.

Saturday afternoon, Josiah and Michael took a beginning blacksmith workshop. 

Josiah heated metal and...

...banged it into a coat hook for over 3 1/2 hours. I had to make him stop! He had a great time and I hope we can give him more classes in the future. He and Michael got their picture in our local paper as they worked on their project.

On Sunday, after the Kirk 
service and the Blessing of the Tartans, Michael and the kids, along with a bunch of our friends, ran the Kilted Kilometer. I would have participated too, but I forgot my running shoes.

This was Josiah's first race. He got pretty winded at the end. But all the kids finished!.

My friend, Sarah, took first place. I was so proud of her! She is amazing!

Hailey came across the finish line with a flower she picked along the way for me. So cute!
Michael went back and ran Josiah in the rest of the way. I thought this was such a cute picture. 

After the race. Josiah was pretty wiped out.

After that, the kids got to participate in the Children's Highland Games. 

Caber toss.

Even Hailey gave it a try.

Then there was the ladies' Welsh Skillet Toss. I did terrible, but I got a great pic of my friend, Cora, as she made a perfect ringer around the flag pole. Look at that awesome form! 

We always love the reenactors that set up camp.

Last year they had a Jacobite demonstration, this year it was WWI's 15th Division, which was a Scottish division in the British army. The timing of this was great as I was getting ready for Josiah's WWI themed birthday party.

I got some great ideas and we all learned a lot from these soldiers.

We topped off the weekend by serving haggis to our friends. Haggis is minced heart, lungs, liver and kidneys mixed with onion, oats, salt and pepper, all stuffed inside a sheep's stomach and then boiled for 3 hours. There were some real haggis lovers there. To be truthful, it isn't my favorite, but I can eat it, just barely. Michael loves it. It is super expensive to buy, so I think I will try making my own when we get our sheep this year. Of course I will be adding more garlic!

It was a really fun, albeit exhausting weekend. Can't wait for next year! This is definitely going to become an annual event for us. I love learning while have fun. Immersion is the best way to learn! We are working our way up to Civil War reenacting, which is much more expensive, so it is taking us awhile to accumulate our gear and clothing, but it is coming along! We had a Civil War replica rifle given to us by other blogger (you know who you are), which really helped out a lot. Hoping that we will be able to start participating in the Fort Steven's reenactment by next summer.

These kind of events are a homeschool family's gold mine. So glad we are able to do these kinds of things! The Lord just keeps providing a way.

God Bless,


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