"Lo, Children Are An Heritage of the LORD: and the Fruit of the Womb is His Reward" - Psalm 127:3

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Better Pictures of the Safe

 This is how we spent our early morning.  We had to move the safe before church.  Thankfully my husband was able to borrow a big fork lift from his employer.  That made the job completely doable.

I took some better pictures of the wrap on the safe.  It's really beautiful.

 This side is a little harder to make out - but it's the Wyoming state flag.

Here's a close-up of the buffalo, with the state seal on it.

Anyway we got it moved, but not in time to make it to Sunday School.  We did get to morning worship though.  I've been thinking of all the things we can store in it - including sentimental things like a flash drive full of all our digital family pictures.  I also ordered a special receipt scanner today, which we've been wanting to get for quite awhile.  Doing taxes recently reminded me how much the scanner would pay for itself.  It's supposed to have software with it that automatically categorizes your receipts into the right file (or at least makes it easy for you to do it).  This way we can throw out all of our paper clutter and still have it saved for tax time or whenever else we might need it.  I can't tell you how excited I am to be getting rid of all my paper clutter.  That's the biggest challenge I have to staying organized.  Anyway, I think a flash drive with all that stuff will go into the safe too. It will definitely be nice to have.  Oh and I was WAY off in my fire rating.  The safe is rated for 60 minutes at 1200 degrees!

My Birthday and the RMEF Banquet

My birthday started out nice and slow.  With a little bit of this... snuggling :)

 It was nice just hanging out with the baby.  I was gone most of yesterday and didn't get to play with him much, so today we had some snuggle time...

 Then the eight year old brought me my diet coke in a nice glass with a hand-made note taped on it (with LOTS of tape).

 My sweet husband picked out this cute bear figurine.  I collect bear things (and moose) and this one was rocking her baby in a rocking chair - how perfect is that?  It completely sums up who I am.

 My in-laws dropped by with these pretty flowers.

 And my daughter bought me some goodies and an owl journal.  (I'm into owls too.)

My parents each sent cash, which I'm sure will make it's way to Amazon.com in the near future ;)

Then this evening my husband and I went off to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation banquet.  We love going there and the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  It made a great birthday dinner.  They served garlic shrimp and smoked prime rib, which was excellent.  The ducks in the photo above were sold for $20 each on a chance to win a 1986 Ford truck with a camo wrap on it - basically a hunting truck.  We didn't win.  And we didn't buy all four of them either - only one.  The other ducks were given to us after the auction. I'm sure the boys will appreciate them.

 Every membership purchase also came with a hunting knife with the RMEF logo etched into the blade.

There were several raffles too, rows of tables set up full of items.  You just walk around and put your raffle tickets in the buckets for the items you're interested in.  We won this one.

 Sorry for the poor picture quality - it was late and I had to use a flash so it didn't come out very well.  It's a message board made to hang on your wall, with a metal piece and the cutest magnets.

Here is one of the magnets.  They are the ends of bullets - very clever. And the magnets are very strong.  The message board is a "bragging board" so you're supposed to put your hunting pictures on it.

 The prize came with two of these plastic cutting board mats...

 And some seasoning salt.

I also played a game where you spin a wheel and win prizes.  Problem was they were out of most of the prizes by the time I played, so they gave raffle tickets instead.  Next year we're going to have to hit that game first.  My spins would have won a hoodie and a gun case, but instead I just got raffle tickets.  Oh well.

Oh, and then there's this little thing.  This is a gun safe - a huge one, with a custom wrap featuring the Teton Mountain Range, which is just up the road near Jackson Hole. This was one of the items available for the live auction, which we can't afford to even consider bidding in.  But they have a little game before hand called Pick of the Herd.  Before the live auction begins, they sell individual playing cards for $20 each.  You buy a card, tear it in half, turn in half of it, and then they draw the winning card.  Winner gets their choice of any live auction item, minus a few of their really big prizes like week-long hunts in New Zealand or Argentina, and guns that will sell for $5,000 or more.  Long story short, we bought two cards, and WON.  Our pick was this gun safe.  We've wanted one for a long time, and this one is absolutely beautiful.

 It will hold 30 rifles or shotguns, (10 on the door alone), plus has places for pistols, ammo and anything else you want to put in it.  It is fireproof too - I think someone told me it's fireproof for up to 60 minutes at 400 degrees or something crazy like that.  The only problem is that it's ridiculously heavy, and it has to be moved in the morning before church.  We're still working on all that... 

 I mentioned that the wrap was beautiful.  The front has the RMEF logo, and the Teton Mountains.  It's hard to see in this picture (I'll try to get better ones in the light tomorrow) but on this side there's a background image of the Wyoming flag, and the opposite side has the image of the American flag on it.  That side was right against their speakers, so I couldn't get a picture of that.  Anyway, not too bad of a birthday present!  It's worth over $2,000!

Speaking of flags, one neat thing that happened tonight was that the first item they auctioned off was an American flag which had been flown overseas on a military base.  They had just had all the veterans stand up and be recognized, as well as doing the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Star Spangled Banner.  The person who won the auction for the flag spent over $1000, then had the auctioneer give out raffle tickets to all of the veterans, and draw for one of them to have it.  It was an awesome gesture.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Homeschool Field Trip to the National Museum of Wildlife Art

 Early this morning the eight year old and I hit the road for a big adventure - a homeschool field trip to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole.  The eight year old gets carsick, so when we were going through the winding canyon to Jackson, he kept covered up.

 It was cold today, but sunny, which is always a problem for carsick kids.  Thankfully we didn't have any problems though.

 He was starving by the time we got to McDonalds for breakfast.  He ordered oatmeal with fruit and maple, two hashbrowns, and hot chocolate.  I don't think I've ever seen anyone order oatmeal at McDonalds before, but it was a healthy choice, and he loved it.

The museum is quite a beautiful place.  I don't know if you can see in this picture or not, but it's kind of camouflaged into the hillside, covered with rock.  It looks a lot like a fortress or castle hidden in the hill overlooking the Elk Refuge.
 This group of bronze elk meet you at the highway to lead you into the museum parking lot.

 These bison are close to the entrance, along with other works in bronze, featuring deer and wild turkeys, as well as a natural stone amphitheater style row of seating, I'm guessing for group talks and such.

 This was our group of homeschoolers - preschool through high school.  There are quite a lot of us in our small community.  And these are just the ones that made it to the field trip.

 My eight year old was in the youngest group - preschool through 2nd grade.  I almost think I ought to have bumped him up with the 3rd-5th grade group, but he enjoyed it so it was fine.  The lady standing is from the museum, and she led our tour.  The group followed animal tracks that had been velcroed to the floor, then stopped to discuss different works of art.  Here they are studying a wolf painting.

 Then they were on to the next painting - a mountain lion.

 (In case you're wondering, I asked and received permission to take photos.  The only thing they limit is flash photography.)  I love this bronze of an elk.  It was probably my favorite smaller bronze in the museum.

 This bronze of a herd of horses is an amazing piece - and very large.  In the background on the right you can see a lady standing against the wall.  This piece was on a pedestal, which made it taller than us - probably over 6 1/2 feet.  It's in the middle of the isle, so you can walk all the way around it.  On the other side, an Indian is clinging to the back of one of the horses.

 This is an interesting painting by George McLean.  It's the impression of a bird that has swooped down to snatch up a mouse.  All you see is the tracks and the impression of the bird lifting off.  I had to look twice to make sure it wasn't a photograph.

 This is my all-time favorite piece of art.  It's Tucker Smith's "The Refuge."  I was working as a reporter for the local paper when he completed this piece back in 1994, and had the privilege of interviewing him in his home.  It was such an amazing experience, I've never forgotten it.  At the time he had just finished this piece, which if memory serves, was commissioned by the museum as a tribute to the refuge.  I was broke at the time and the $220 price tag for a print was beyond my budget.  Now, if you can find them, you're talking thousands rather than hundreds of dollars.  Some day, I'm going to own one, along with a wall long enough to display it on :)

Isn't this bison picture amazing?  Looks like he's coming out of the mist.  The guide shared a lot of information on each animal she led the kids to.  Here she talked about the difference between horns and antlers and why bison horns don't grow very long when mountain sheep horns do.  I loved that she had something for the kids to touch along the way at each stop too.  She usually had a plaster cast of the footprint, and sometimes more - like a bear skull, and later on the trail, a bear skin rug they could lay on.  

 The museum has a lot of great displays.  This one is a re-creation of an artist's studio.  This was John Clymer's studio.  It was amazing to see all the things he had on hand.  I'll show you the studio in three photos, from left to right.

 The chair in the foreground is covered in buffalo hide, and three is a bear hide behind that, and several skulls hanging on the wall.  Several books on the shelf are about anatomy or animals.

 The middle of the studio features a desk and an easel, file drawers and a couple of chairs.  On the wall there are several mounts and skulls antlers. 

 To the far right, there is a clothing rack filled with authentic old western wear for cowboys, mountain men and Indians. 

This huge canvas is sketched out (I think you can make it bigger by clicking on it).  It was sketched out to be a waterfall, and a herd of mountain goats working their way up and around a bend.  Even unfinished, the sketch is amazing.  I wish I could just sketch like that!
 This enormous room features the artwork of ONE artist - Carl Rungius.  And he was amazing.  (Seems like I'm using that word a lot, huh?)  I didn't count how many pieces were in this room, but it had to be more than 30.

 He has some very realistic artwork of all sorts of western animals - moose, mountain sheep and mountain goats here...

 This painting of the antelope herd was one of the most realistic ones.

 The neat thing about this room is the displays they have on the artist's stuff, or things to teach how he did his craft.

 This display featured an old easel and a palette with paint blobs on it
I took a picture of the information about Rungius, in hopes you could read it if you wanted to.  He did much of his painting right around the town we live in.

 This was a self portrait he did called "Better than Bacon" which depicts him leading his horse which is loaded with the antelope buck he has just shot.

 It's quite an interesting story if you want to click to enlarge and read it.

 When the kids got to a gigantic portrait of a black bear, the guide had placed a very small bear skin on the floor for them to explore.

 I can't begin to describe how magnificent this picture is.  The oranges and yellows of the trees are so vivid and the size of the picture really makes the bear come to life - it's probably six feet across or so.

 This was another favorite of mine from the Rungius room.  I am so impressed with artists who can accurately depict under water objects.  This painting is as large as the last one with the bear.

 This is a painting of a grizzly bear - you can see the differences in the bears not only in color, but also in the nose and the hump on the back of the grizzly.

 Here's another display of how the artist worked.  There is a camp stool, umbrella and travel box of art supplies.  The display is done up complete with sagebrush and dirt, a buffalo skull and an old saddle.

There is even a display case with his rifle, old camera and several photos of him on his adventures near our home.  I think it means more to kids when they can connect something like a famous artist to their own location.  It makes it more believable that they too could grow up to do something great.

 This moose was very lifelike.  I'm definitely going to have to get a book of Rungius' work for our art studies for our homeschool.

 At the end of the museum tour, our guide read a story to the kids and let them just hang out.  My son is laying on the bear skin in this picture.  You can see how small this little bear must have been ... just a cub.

 Here's my son with his hand next to the plaster cast of a bear footprint.  Kinda scary, huh?  I definitely wouldn't want to meet this guy out in the woods.

 In one corner of another room of the gallery, there were a couple of chairs, with a small table between them.  Several books that they offer for sale were displayed there, along with these adorable bookends.

 I LOVE these bookends :)

 At the end of the tour, my son was thirsty, so we hunted down a drinking fountain.  He tried the first one, closest to the front in the photo and winced and said it was horrible, then he tried the middle one, which he said was a little better, and finally the last one, which was perfect.  Three bears, anyone?  I didn't bother to tell him it was all the same water ;)

 Here he is posing with a huge moose bronze.  This one is a fountain too.  Moose like to hang out in marshy areas, and this one has his front legs down in the marsh, with the water piped up to his antlers and dripping off of them.

 And here he is next to a little (ha) totem pole.

Of course no visit would be complete without a stop in the gift shop. He ended up picking out the cougar in his left hand to purchase.  He wanted to buy a whole pack of wolves, which he tells me is seven, but I nixed that idea as soon as we figured out they were more than $5 each.

 I thought these were really cute - they are mobiles made with wildlife.  They are just made out of heavy paper, and I told my son we could make some to hang above the baby's crib.  I wasn't about to pay $34 for the pre-made ones!

They had the mobiles in fish too, which would probably be much easier to duplicate.
 This is one of the most fun things about the museum - the kids' room.  (My son, who is reading over my shoulder, just informed me that the gift shop was the most fun thing there, but this is the second-most fun thing.) 

 Anyway, they have the kids' area divided up into different areas.  This is the art studio.  They provide easels, paper, writing utensils, and all sorts of inspiring things - like displays of different claws, skulls, and eyeballs.  Fun, right?

 My personal favorite is the Reading Nook.

 Someday I'm going to re-create this in my own home... when I have a big enough home.  It's a little room with a bench all around, with bookshelves under the bench.  It would be perfect for the kids' books.

 One of the best features of the room is the little hammock they have hung between the wall and the end of the shelves.

The ceiling has a mesh canopy with imprints of leaves on it, so it feels like you're outside.
 This is a view from the entrance above.  When you first enter, you overlook the main floor open room.  The stairs go down on the left behind the rock wall, then turn and go down into the main room.  Can you see the crouching mountain lion that overhangs the rock wall above the stairs?

 Here's a closer view from the stairs below.  Let's just say it's very realistic, and rather intimidating.

After our tour, we all headed over to Pizza Hut for the lunch buffet.  I would have taken pictures, but I was seated at the Mommy table, and thought I would look a little strange.  I did make the mistake of mentioning to a good friend that tomorrow is my 40th birthday.  (She had told me not to look forward to turning 50, as she has had some health issues since then.)  Anyway, she thought the whole restaurant needed to know and she made them all sing!  Not to worry, I won't forget her "thoughtfulness" ;)

 We headed home, and straight into this - a Spring blizzard.  It wasn't too bad, and didn't accumulate much.

And I arrived home to this ... my three year old and one of the daycare kids covered in marker...  Back to reality!