Camping at Enchanted Rock: Part 1

Interesting title, don’t you agree?  Last week we did, in fact, go camping at a place called “Enchanted Rock”.  So, you may ask, why am I reading this post today instead of a week ago?  Why does it take Julianne so long to write new posts?  Why am I reading her speculation about my thoughts?  Well, as to that last part, I really can’t say.  As to the taking a long time about writing new posts, it does take a while to sort through the many, many pictures I took.

So, enter first of many, many pictures.
IMG_1675 This one was taken shortly after we arrived at the park, when we still had a hour-long hike to our campsite ahead of us.  Notice all the sleeping bags and assorted “things” we’re carrying?

And this one shows us taking advantage of a nearby boulder (not pictured) to tower over Daddy!

The hike to the campsite featured some interesting, erm, boulders and other rocks (it was a mountain of pink granite, after all).

After we started to get over the mountain and into the valley, the hiking got more strenuous and I stopped taking pictures in order to focus on not falling and dying.  Below are a couple of the pictures I took after we exited the valley and got into a flatter area.

Taking a short break in the cave.

Daddy standing just outside the cave we found.

After we got to our campsite and set up the tents, we explored and played for a few hours. We also kept our eyes open for forked sticks that might serve as potential skewers for our hotdogs and marshmallows later!

Cooking up some dinner!


Good, safe cooking methods were demonstrated by Daniel.

Good, safe cooking methods were demonstrated by Daniel.

After the dinner we ate more snacks and played some games in the tent, before finally dropping off to sleep, something which turned out to be more difficult than I would have imagined, due to the coyote pack that saw fit to howl loudly throughout most of the night. Creepy and noisy, but also sort of interesting due to the novelty of it!

That’s it for Part 1 of this post! Check back tomorrow for Part 2!

The Season of Lizards

The season of lizards is early spring through late fall. A long season, at least around here. But for the past month or so, the wild lizards that can typically be found around our backyard have been inactive. As a result, there have been no new additions to Daniel’s collection of reptiles. That lizard-less season has come to close, however, and both he and John caught a Green Anole!

One of these Green Anoles is looking greener than the other…

Those aren’t the only new lizards, though. Toady, one of Daniel’s three Texas Spiny Lizards, (named for her extremely fat physique, giving the impression that she’s part toad) was looking much slimmer the other day. A quick investigation of her cage gave the explanation: 19 newly-laid eggs! The picture below is the bowl full of warm soil that they’ve moved the eggs into.

We had actually been expecting this for while, but we weren’t expecting 19 eggs, nor the knowledge that they’ll take 2 to 3 months to hatch.

Honestly, having lizards in the house wasn’t always pleasant for me. I didn’t always appreciate the spiky, scaly creature that leaps out of Daniel’s hand and into my hair when we’re trying to watch a movie. But seeing how much excitement and happiness they bring to Daniel and Gloria makes up for that. And you know what? I’m looking forward to having 19 baby lizards in the house.

Knitting

If you were to ask me what I’ve been doing in the past week, I could answer you with one word: knitting. I’m recently obsessed with knitting, and I want to do hardly anything else. Not even read books! (A huge change for me, the bookworm who could be found sitting on the couch reading for eight hours a day only a few weeks ago!)

So, you may ask, what have I been knitting? I made a pair of slippers for Gloria and am now working on a second pair for Aunt Anna.

Besides that, I found a nice, simple sweater pattern and it’s coming along nicely.

John got interested after watching me knit non-stop for a while, and I taught him how too! After mastering the cast-on, knit, and purl stitches, he got to work on some really lovely i-cord coasters. Aren’t they so pretty?

DSCN5145

Gloria is getting interested too, now, so I may end up teaching her as well. After all, there can never be too many knitters in our family!

A Pomelo for a Snack

Every Wednesday Mommy buys fruit.  While she typically only brings back apples, pears, strawberries and the like, she recently came home with a pomelo.

The pomelo, alternately called the 柚子 (pronounced yòu​zi​) in our family,  is a huge, citrus fruit about the size of a small melon (such as a honeydew or cantaloupe).  It’s sweeter than most grapefruits but a bit more tart than the oranges that you typically buy in America.  We used to eat them pretty much every time we had people over or we went to someone’s house, at potlucks, for a snack, etc.  Since we’ve moved back to the US, however, we’ve been unable to find them.  Until now, that is!

Yòu​zi​

Needless to say, we were all pretty excited about it and the pomelo didn’t last long after Daddy peeled it.  It was sweet, juicy, seedless, and everything a pomelo should be.  Don’t you want some?

John’s Birthday

Was yesterday, February 7th.  So this post is just to tell you all about how it went!

First of all, we went to the theater with Uncle Paul to watch THE LEGO MOVIE!  Peter had found out quite a while ago that the film’s premier would be on John’s birthday, so Daddy got tickets and we all went to see it!  It was very fun, and exactly what John wanted.

After the movie, we went home much-inspired to play with Legos and create all sorts of awesome things.  The result?  The boy’s room floor was promptly covered with Lego bricks.  Fun?  Definitely.  Messy?  Obviously, but that’s okay.

After we had been building for a while, Aunt Anna came over and we had dinner.  Fish n’ Chips, which is quite possibly John’s favorite food.  And, of course, followed by cake and ice cream.  (Picture included because I feel like teasing my China friends)

It was so tasty...

It was so tasty…

After dinner it was present time!  He got lots of fun stuff like Legos and chocolate, and John and Daniel enjoyed putting the sets together.  It was a great birthday, even though John is now fourteen, which somehow makes me feel older than just fifteen.  The important thing is that he had a great day, and everyone else had fun, too.  Happy Birthday, John!

By the way, let’s see if you can figure out how many times the words ‘Lego’ or ‘Legos’ were used in this post!

Lots of chocolate for John!

A Tree in our Backyard

Of the four largest trees in our backyard, one oak is particularly huge and well-formed. We’ve had a lot of fun in this tree, and John, Daniel, and Gloria have all become expert tree climbers because of the practice it affords. John and Daniel in particular have some great tree-climbing accomplishments. With the help of a rope and ladder, they have managed to reach heights of over 30 feet! Even those branches are pretty thick, though, so they have been allowed to keep climbing on the condition that they be careful and use the ropes.

About 20ft into the tree.

About 20ft up the tree.

With John’s helpful counsel, even I, Julianne, managed to climb up the tree. I barely got 10 feet up before coming down, though. I’m nowhere near as talented at climbing trees. I leave that to my gifted brothers! (And, of course, Gloria.)

John helping me climb!

John helping me climb!

Just yesterday John climbed up the tree. After crawling along a fairly straight branch, he managed to fasten a thick coil of rope around it. Now we have a tree swing!

Doesn’t it look like fun?

First Post: Christmas Eve at the Cassetta Home

I know that it’s not Christmas Eve anymore, but I’m hoping that there are still people who will want to read about it anyway.

On Christmas Eve, we have a few traditions. We invite our family or friends over, eat tamales and posole, and play a game called “The Grab Bag”.

Posole

Posole

Tamales

Tamales

Christmas cookies and my attempt at mince pies

Christmas cookies and my attempt at mince pies

I don’t know how the Grab bag tradition started or who made it up, but it’s definitely a highlight of every Christmas Eve. Mommy fills a huge bag with unwrapped gifts, and we take turns passing the bag around and picking things out. There is another rule, though. You can’t look when it’s your turn to pick something.

As the game progresses, we begin trading. Gloria had quite a few offers this time, and ended up with some of the best candies and other items.

IMG_20131224_213628It was a lot of fun to see our relatives and make some advantageous trades with them. Well, advantageous for Gloria…