Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring Break!

Our curriculum has a slow week scheduled for this week - a spring break of sorts. Since we've taken quite a bit of time off lately, I'm using this week to focus more on math & reading.

Punkin's motivation to read has improved a lot. Lately, I had given up trying to get her to practice reading and invested in game-based phonics approach called Happy Phonics. I got a superb deal (almost felt guilty!) on Ebay, and have been very, very pleased with program. We've just been just playing games with her to introduce the phonics "rules" and keep her practicing at least a few words every day. But, she wanted to read a "real book" this week, so, of course, we are. She is excited to find out what happens next. She is improving dramatically. She is still struggling to remember the words long enough to get the flow of the sentences and know what is happening, but that will come in time. She's reading! It's amazing to watch.

She excels at math and it is her favorite! We are learning about odd and even numbers - not too exciting to write about, but very exciting to see her little face light up when she says, "Oh - I get it!"


Here is the four generation picture we took when Punkin was born. We intended to do it on the morning Punkin was baptized and we were all dressed up and looking spiffy - but we forgot.

We need to take an updated one now, don't we?

Grandma is still doing well. My dad went to visit her this morning and she wanted him to call and confirm the speaker she had lined up for her book club meeting next week. I do well to think of these things in normal life, much less not even a week away from 2 open heart surgeries in 3 days. But, it's just like her! :) It's very encouraging to all of us that she may be a little weaker at the moment, but she is still Grandma!


Grandma did get the tubes out and got to move to the step-down unit yesterday. She is talking "a mile a minute" my dad said. Mom is very encouraged.

Now that she is back in the step-down unit, the nurse that was changing her dressing last Thursday when the "stitch-popping" incident happened came by to see her. She told my mom that if she had not been right there changing the dressing that Grandma would have died because those few minutes that it would have taken her to walk down the hall and figure out what was going on would have been lost - and the quick response time was really important. She also said that she routinely changes all her patients dressing at 9:00 in the morning; but for "some reason" she didn't get around to it until the afternoon that day with Grandma.

It's wonderful when you can actually see God's hand, isn't it?

Monday, February 26, 2007


Punkin to SnugBug: You pretend to be the little brother. You are the little brother, so that should be easy.


The news is that Grandma is getting bossy. (Go, grandma!)

And that's a good thing. That means she is feeling better! She talking. She's taking an interest in her health, etc...

She still has some tubes in - they must have something to do with the heart surgery because the heart surgeon has to remove them. They are anticipating removing those in the morning and that she will be moved to the step-down unit tomorrow.

Barring another setback, things look very positive for her recovery - though it may be slower going than she would like.

Proof SnugBug smiles

Just for Momma Roar. Look at that cute smile! ( I think of him smiling all the time, but I did have a little trouble finding a picture without that "are you done yet" look. Hmmmm. Maybe it's the camera? )

All dressed up!

Hi Gram! Thought you might enjoy a picture of the grandkids last Halloween just for fun! Aren't they adorable?

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Today has been a good day for Grandma.

She is completely off the ventilator and she is no longer heavily sedated! She is still in ICU and on oxygen, and her throat is so sore from the ventialtor that she cannot talk yet. She tried to write something this afternoon, but my aunt could not make out what she was trying to say. My grandma is very social, so I'm sure she is eager to be able to communicate again.

It's a slow process, but everyone is encouraged that she is slowly improving.

Thanks to everyone who is praying - please don't stop yet! :)

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Grandma is still "holding her own" today. She has been upgraded to "fair", and they have begun to dial back the ventilator. My brother went today, and she opened her eyes for him. She is responding to "squeeze my hand", and nodding yes or no to questions such as "are you cold?", "are you hurting?", etc..

My mom is cautiously optimistic. Grandma is not out of the woods yet, but based on how things are right this minute - she is steadily improving.

My mom is a teacher, and has been out all week. She needs to go back to school Monday and do a day of lessons and make some further preparations for her students. I'm sure it will be difficult for her to be away, and for my aunt to be "holding down the fort" on her own for a little while.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Here is my grandma with SnugBug when he was about 8 months old.

Grandma is stable today. They have her heavily sedated to give her body a chance to heal and rest. Because of the level of sedation, she is still on the ventilator and they were going to put in a feeding tube today.

Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers - as well as my mom, dad and aunt. Stress, lack of sleep and family can be a hard mix sometimes!

Here is a picture of my aunt and my parents.

Homeschool Tag

I've been tagged by Momma Roar!

Homeschooling Tag

1) One homeschooling book you have enjoyed.
You're Going to Do What? Helping You Understand the Homeschool Decision by Laurajean Downs

2) One resource you wouldn’t be without.
Bible, Washable Magic Markers

3) One resource you wish you had never purchased.
I really research things, so I can't think of one that I haven't gotten anything out of. But, we are only in our first year....

4) One resource you enjoyed last year.
Weaver Interlock

5) One resource you will be using next year.
Weaver Curriculum Vol 2 - I'm sure there will be something more exciting to write about, but I don't know what it is yet!

6) One resource you would like to buy.
These timeline figures

7) One homeschooling catalog you enjoy reading.

8.) One homeschooling (educational) website you use regularly.
Enchanted Learning

9) Tag other home schoolers.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Grandma has had a rough day.

It started out well - she got to go to the step-down unit last night, she walked down the hall a little bit and sat up for about an hour. But, when they were changing her dressing, her vitals dropped and they could not find a pulse. She began breathing again on her own (no crash cart needed), and they determined quickly that there was some bleeding around the heart.

So, she was rushed back for surgery. The stitches where the heart/ lung machine was attached had come apart and she was bleeding. The surgeon evidentally had an issue with this spot during the first surgery, so they sewed it again and did the equivalent of "super-gluing" it. She lost quite a bit of blood and had to have several tranfusions.

She is back in ICU, stable, and heavily sedated. They are planning to reduce her ventilator around 4 am. Because she is so heavily sedated, it has not been determined if this incident has caused further complications.

Things I'm thankful for:
1. The nurses were right there with her when the problem happened.
2. The crash cart was not needed.
3. Her favorite surgeon was available to do her emergency surgery.
4. The heart/ lung machine was not needed for this surgery.
5. She has great friends! Several came to the hospital today along with her pastor.
6. My mom said the hospital staff has been amazing - very concerned, very caring, and very sensitive to the family's emotions.

I know that she would not want me to pray for her survival on this earth - but for the Lord's will. I have been praying for her protection and for there to be no medical "mistakes" in her care.

It has been a reminder today that the Lord's ways are not our ways, and things can change in literally a minute. We had been feeling so positive because her recovery seemed to be going so extremely well. It was quite a shock to my parents to come back from a walk and find her room full of staff and a crash cart there. My mom only slept about 3 hours last night and she and my dad and my aunt are all staying in the waiting room tonight. Please pray for physical stamina and strength for my aunt, my mom and my dad.

Book recommendations

I don't get a chance to read much these days, but I just finished A Red State of Mind by Nancy French, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great break from parenting and bookkeeping, and well worth my time! It's a humorous book about a lady transplanted from the south to the urban Northeast. Since I'm from a small town within a couple of hours of where she grew up, it was almost too true in places to be funny! You can read the first chapter HERE .

My daughter's favorite book right now is Lily's Big Day by Kevin Henkes. If you have a spirited young one, as I do, who ever wanted to be a flower girl or princess - you should read it. It's very cute.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Solar System

We went to the soccer field at the park today and made a "solar system." I taped a picture of the sun and each of the planets (and I had to include poor little Pluto, although we talked about the fact that it is not really considered a planet anymore) to a bamboo skewer to make a stake of each one. Our curriculum told us how many baby steps to Mercury, how many giant, giant steps to Saturn, etc... There is still snow on the ground but it is crunchy by now, so it was actually very easy to put our stakes in the ground. Granted, my "planets" were not very big and were on white paper, but by the time we got to little ole Pluto, we could not see the "sun" stake anymore. (I was disappointed when I got there and realized I had forgotten my camera. Grrr.)

The idea of the activity was to get some sense of the huge scale of just our solar system - this activity tied in the with bible lesson of God telling Abram that he would have more descendants that he could count stars in the sky. I was truely struck by the fact that out of the hugeness of creation, God sent his Son to die for us little peons.

We also talked about the sun. I'm also blown away by our Creator God and the fact that the Earth is the perfect distance from the Sun - any closer and we would be burned up, and any farther away and we would freeze. I find it hard to believe that many feel the more "reasonable" theory is that that just happened. Ah, but that is a topic for another time.

And, we discussed the order of the planets and how important the sun is to our well-being (science), how to protect our skin from the sun (health), counted our steps and measured our steps in feet and inches (math), and got some good exercise (PE). Overall, one of our more active and integrated school days - I love those days!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Grandma's a trooper!

Thanks to everyone who prayed for my grandma!

Her surgery went beautifully. Praise the Lord! They were able to replace the aortic valve and the aorta in one step, instead of two as they planned. This shortened the surgery considerably from an expected 10- 12 hours to 4 1/2 or 5 - which also means that she was on the heart/lung machine for much less time than anticipated. These are all very good things.

The doctors are very pleased and called her day "textbook." She still has a long road to recovery - but her recovery looks very promising.

I am so grateful that God has a few more things for her to accomplish down here with us.

Yay God! Yay Grandma! :)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Grandma's big day

Tomorrow (Tuesday, the 20th) is my Grandma's surgery - HERE is the original post where I tell about what is going on with her. The surgery is expected to last 10-12 hours. Please Pray - for her doctor and for God's will.

Thank you. Thank you!

Fun Photo

I'm guessing you don't want to hear about my "fun-filled" day trying to sort out health insurance paperwork, and more "fun-filled" still-trying-to-get-my-payroll-set-up joy, joy, joys, and does anyone know of a decent place to get an HSA, and ... oh the list goes on. (I mean, really, who would NOT want to hear about these things???!!!)

So, instead, I'll share a picture of my funny SnugBug. Please ignore his mis-matched jammies and the fact that he is laying on our clean clothes (HEY - there are still clean no matter how long they have been there).

Is he not a CUTIE?? I couldn't find him - I wasn't expecting him to be up there!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Field Trip!!

Can you guess where? Ok, I'll even give you some choices...

A. Zoo
B. Museum
C. A light rail train pedestrian bridge

If you guessed C. - you're a winner! Winner, take a bow. (OK, we've been playing too much Hullabaloo. :) If you don't have this game and you need an active game for snowy/rainy days, I highly recommend it. But I digress.)

Actually, the bridge was great fun, despite some odd looks from people actually planning to ride the train. Having hubby with us always makes things more fun.

The bridge goes over the interstate, and you can see the cars & trucks down below. Hubby had them look for red cars, try to get right in front of them, and yell "BEEP" - which they did with great glee. It provided great exercise - the lanes seem much wider on the bridge than when you are driving!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Boy Time, Part 2

me, after discovering SnugBug hiding under the table trying to open a piece of candy: "Whatcha doing?"
SB: "nothing"
me: "Whatcha got?"
SB: "nothing"
me going over to him
SB: "I got a piece of candy for you momma. Here you go."

(Yes, he still went to time-out. But it was hard.)

Boy Time

Today is my day with just SnugBug. Here are some of the funny things he says when Punkin is not around to drown him out.

We went to my favorite coffee shop and shared a white hot cocoa and a scone. He was sitting in my lap and I was thinking what a big boy he is and how he will be grown before I blink 2 more times. So, after he "punches" me to show how much he loves me - I decide to remind him (again) that punches and pokes are not the best way to show affection (at least to the girls in his life).
me: "You are getting so big."
SB: "I big boy now. I go pee-pee in the potty and I heavy."
me: "When you grow up, you're gonna be a man like Daddy."
SB: "Yep"
me: "And take good care of the people around you."
SB: "yep"
me: "And speak nicely to them"
SB: "yep. And go to Walmart like mommies do."

So, then we went to, uh.... Walmart. And SnugBug laid down in the cart and was going to sleep.
me: "No sleeping in Walmart, bud." (I want my nap later you know.)
SB: "But, mom, my eyes are closing."

And on the way home, it was very quiet. Suddenly SB says:
"When I grow up, I'm gonna be a racecar."

O, I love that boy. (And I've decided not to worry about the whole racecar thing. No one ever grows up to ACTUALLY be what they dream of as a child, ... right? )

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Giggleboxes

Kids are so easy to entertain!

We just spent a fun-filled half-hour with our kiddos - supposedly reading bedtime stories and winding down. Actually, SnugBug distracted us all by "popping" Daddy's big cheeks. "No, do like this Daddy" (makes big cheeks and a strawberry sound). Daddy makes a great "zurbert" or "strawberry" sound! And, SnugBug laughs and laughs. He has a very contagious laugh - there is no way you cannot laugh with him. All 4 of us had a great time. I love hearing both of them laugh with such abandon and joy. It makes my heart do that great mommy thing where you wonder if your chest can contain it.

I love family moments when the world seems like a wonderful place. I think I enjoyed them especially tonight because of Noah's blog today. What a reminder that the world is not always a wonderful place, and to hold tightly and treasure the wonderful moments God gives us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

How I met my hubby

Well, I thought I would join the Valentine's bandwagon and share how I met my hubby. (Sorry those that have already read/ heard this. )

I graduated from college in December 1994 with a degree in Business Management and minor in drama. I had big dreams of being either a wedding coordinator or managing a small/ mid-sized stage theater.

One of my roommates, P, was from Alpharetta, a northern surburb of Atlanta. I went home with her several times and fell in love with Atlanta. I grew up in a small town - and Atlanta was big, thriving, exciting. I loved it.

So, after college, I decided to move to the big city. I had a sorority sister that lived there, and she let me stay with her for quite awhile so I could look for a job. I finally found a job at a bridal store and an apartment I could afford.

Thursday, on the way to my first day of work, I had a car accident. (Welcome to Atlanta!) Everything I owned was in my car, and now the hatchback wouldn't open. :)

That Saturday, my friend that I was staying with had a "hot date" and wanted to cook for her new man (who she ended up marrying) in her one-bedroom apartment, so I needed to not be there.

My pastor in my hometown had 3 kids. One of them lived in Atlanta, and so my pastor's wife told me about this great church I "just had to check out. They have a great singles program, etc... " Well, I wasn't interested in the singles program - my experience with "singles" programs had been very meat-market and I hated it. Plus, I was involved with a guy from college, although our relationship was more than a little strange.

But because of the "hot date", I needed a place to stay so I went down to stay with my pastor's daughter and her husband for one night until I could move into my new apartment the next day. There was a singles dinner that Saturday night, and I felt awkward with the pastor's daughter (I didn't know her really), so I went to the dinner.

In my sock feet.

Because I couldn't get my casual shoes out of my car, because the back wouldn't open.

And that's when I met dh. I knew no one, was technically homeless, had a messed up car, and was sock-footed. Dh was a little intrigued with the shoeless girl. :) As I was with him. :) I got tired and was headed back to go to bed, and he walked me to my car. Noticed the picture of the guy on my dashboard - and basically ignored him. Noticed that I had a lot of stuff in there - and offered to help me move in. Which I gratefully accepted.

So, the next day, Sunday - I went to church at this "'great singles church", dh took me to lunch and then helped me move into my apartment. That took a whopping 2 hours (maybe! - remember everything I owned was in my car and it was a Dodge Neon hatchback), so then we went to the movies.

And we've talked just about every day since. We were an "instant click" sort of thing. I met him in January, officially ended things with college guy in February, we got engaged in October, and married the next March. I was 23.

And no way could we move in 2 hours again!

Here we are in 1999 when we got our digital camera. (This was pre-kids, so I don't think I look much like this anymore - but this is how I think of us!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Today's Top 3 highlights

I'm wiped out tonight, so I'm just hitting the highlights:

1. Gymnastics class - both the kids LOVE it! It is a highlight of our week. Punkin can do a cartwheel on the balance beam now, and SnugBug does an amazing somersault.

2. Our house didn't burn down when Punkin's lamp shorted out this evening. It made her room smell terrible, but I'm extremely grateful that she was in her room when it happened!

3. Kind words from my hubby - aren't they the greatest?


Overheard from SnugBug, while "reading" a book (that was, of course, upsidedown)

"One day, Curious George made a book." (page turn)
"One day, man with yellow hat made a book." (page turn)
"One day, sister made a book." (page turn)
"One day, God made a book." (page turn)
"One day, yellow hat made a book."

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Airplanes are not my absolute favorite things in the world - after traveling with 2 kids twice a year or so, I'm sorry to admit that I'm sort of over it. :) But, Daddy's should get to warp their kids a little bit too and, here's how my boy feels about airplanes:

So, he was so excited that Daddy participated in an remote-control airplane & helicopter show yesterday. Daddy's helicopters are in the front of this picture:

Here's what Daddy went to see: (yes, the helicopter is upside down!)

The kids got to sit in an airplane (a B-57, I think)
And then, Punkin saw the ultimate. She ran to Daddy (you have to say this with as much 5yr old glee as you can muster), "Daddy, Daddy you've just GOT to see this. Come on, come on."

It was R2D2 IN a starfighter. (See him up in the fighter?) I mentioned in an earlier post the their Daddy watched the "scary movie" a.k.a. Stars Wars with them - and they loved it. It was the highlight of Punkin's day, and she cried when we left because she "just wanted to look at the Starfighter a little longer."
They got to sit in the Starfight too. SnugBug loves all the buttons! Punkin is pretending she is actually flying it.

We had such a fun family day. Right, punkin?

Friday, February 9, 2007

Quiet Day

Hi, ho. Hi, ho. It's back to school we go.

Punkin's enrichment program started back today. She had a great day and made this beautiful valentine for me and her Daddy. Since we homeschool, it is still a novelty for her to bring home crafts and things for us.

SnugBug and I had an incredible day. It was unbelievably quiet and relaxed! I don't get nearly enough time with just him (or just Punkin for that matter), and I so enjoyed today! We went to Walmart and I made a little picture list for him, and he was such the big boy helping me shop. We came home, had left-over pizza for lunch, snuggled on the couch and watched Curious George, and then he went for his rest time. It felt like a vacation day to me!

His rest time was a little early since I had to pick up Punkin from school, so after I laid him down I heard him in his room playing with his cars. My inner monologue is thinking "wonderful. Tonight will be SO much fun." But, I let him go for a bit, and then I heard him say "I'm getting back in the bed now Mommy." "OK", I say (I mean, what else am I going to say?) Sure enough, I go check in a few minutes and he is sound asleep. What 2 1/2 year old puts himself to bed!?

O, I know, MINE. And I'm going to keep him.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Boy Shannigans

Says SnugBug: Highlights of my day -

1. Throwing Pooh bear over the railing is fun. Even more fun - watching Mommy (from time-out) clean up the water from the flowers Daddy brought her from the table, wall, carpet, ....

2. Pretending to be a "helmet guy" from the "scary movie" (you know, Stars Wars that I watched with Daddy), and shoot sister with a cool pretend laser while making a scarily similar sound effect - just like the scary movie.

3. Going pee-pee in the potty! I big boy now.

4. Having pizza for supper. I asked Mommy why we were having pizza for supper and she said because she was too lazy to cook tonight. I thoughtfully replied, "oh."

5. Snuggling with Mommy on the couch while watching TV. I got really excited and sat up ... then leaned back and accidentally smacked Mommy in the face with the back of my head. Mommy says it still hurts. (Oops - sorry, mommy)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Jenni the Turtle

While desperately trying to keep SnugBug awake in the car so he would take a nap at home, I asked the kids to tell me a story about a turtle. Here is a summary of Punkin's story:

"Once upon a time there was a swan and a turtle named Jenni. Jenni the turtle and the swan were talking one day, and the swan asked Jenni the turtle what would be a good name for him, because he had never had a name. Jenni the turtle said the only names she knew were Jenni and Marcel, because Marcel was her friend the beaver. The swan said that he knew Marcel because they had gone sledding at the sledding hill one day. 'Oh' said Jenni the turtle. Well, they finally decided that the swan's name should be Swan because, after all, he was a swan. The End."

SnugBug said, "Turtles like water."

I love my crazy kids!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My little cooks

My kids helped me cook dinner tonight! Now, I have had them in the kitchen before, but tonight was such fun and they were actually helpful. Punkin did a fabulous job peeling potatoes, and SnugBug helped shake our Shake-n-Bake pork chops. We had a grand time. I took a picture, so hopefully I can get that posted soon.

We stargazed again tonight. May I highly recommend it? I've had two wonderful bonding times with Punkin out looking at the stars. They studied stars in her enrichment program last semester, and I was blown away by how much she remembered. She told me all about the different color stars and which one were the hottest. And, from the Punkin creative department - did you know that the stars are 80 hundred, 42-60 thousand inches away ? :)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Star unit begins

We began our star unit today. Punkin and I spent some time on the driveway (since there is still snow covering everything else) staring at the stars. We stayed out there until I was almost completely frozen, and she still cried because she wanted to stay out longer. I tell you, you can tell she is not a Southern girl - she is never cold!

Anyway, we talked about God's promise to Abraham to give him as many offspring as stars in the sky, we talked about astronomers, we talked about telescopes, and we talked about how, if you know the sky well enough, you can use it to tell you what direction you are going. She wants to learn how, and she wants to see Saturn through a telescope someday. She is quite taken with the sky.

I decided to do the Spiritual Formation group mentioned in an earlier post - at least for a month, and see how our time management goes. (It works out well that our first unit is about stars so we needed to wait until nighttime for the bulk of that anyway. :) ) Our first meeting today was wonderful - it is so good to be back a group bible study and have some "girl time" with the other Christian ladies.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Car Shoes for SnugBug

Ok - we're usually anti-"let our children be free advertising for you" people - but....

Punkin had Awana Club early today so that the men, in particular, that help lead the Club could be home for the Super Bowl. So, SnugBug and I hit the outlet mall in search of new shoes for both of us.

I fell prey to allowing Disney to market to my child when SnugBug picks out one of these shoes 3 sizes too big, puts it on all by himself, looks up at me with those big beautiful eyes and says, "Mommy, we take these my house, peass?"

I mean, seriously, who could resist that?? I was proud of myself for insisting we get the correct size!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

My Grandma

For those of you who are the praying kind, can I ask you to add my grandma to your list? She would like for me to pray for God's will for her, and if you would join me I would be honored. Here's a picture of her with our kids in October:

She and I are very close. I lived with her for 2 summers of college, and I had a summer job at the bank where she worked. She is a widow (my granddad passed away 20 yrs ago) and a night owl (as opposed to my parents who go to bed around 8:30), so she is who I call more often when things finally settle down enough that I can be on the phone!

She turned 80 in November, and is having open heart surgery on Feb 20th. They are replacing her aortic valve and part of her aorta to take care of an aneurysm. They have also found a blockage, so there will be one bypass as well. This is a lengthy surgery with many risks, but doing nothing is even riskier.

I am not afraid of death for her - she is a beautiful Christian lady who will be whisked away to heaven, but I would miss her terribly. As she said, - (you have to say this with a Southern accent to really get it) - "Now, I'm not afraid of dying, I'm just afraid that I will miss something here." :)

Friday, February 2, 2007

Mischief Boy strikes again

For several weeks, SnugBug has been able to turn on the light in his bedroom. It had struck me how big he is getting and that he's just not a baby anymore. (sniff, sniff) Also, that this skill is ... well, rather annoying when he should be sleeping. Today I discovered his little secret - his air purifier.
Air purifier, you say? What has this to do with light switches?

I emerged from my bedroom this morning and what do I see? My SnugBug unplugging his air purifier so he can lay it down flat and STAND on it to give him the extra few inches he needs to reach his light switch. I'm not sure what concerns me most: (1)the guilty look he gave me that tells me he knew he really should not be doing this, (2) the inventiveness this demonstrates given that he is not yet 3 years old, OR (3) that he has been faithfully plugging it back in so he has not gotten caught before this.

I'm gonna have to go with number 3, I think. What am I going to do that boy?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

U.S. Mint Field Trip

The Mint was fascinating. They actually did give us coins! One quarter each of never circulated coins - I got Oregon, SnugBug got Texas, and Punkin got South Dakota. They released the Montana coins into circulation yesterday and 2 lucky people in our group got one of those.

You can take a virtual tour of the Mint online, if you want to. Here are some little tidbits I learned today:
  • Today was the 101st anniversary of the Denver mint.
  • The penny blanks are manufactured in Greenville, TN.
  • The other blanks are manufactured onsite from big metal rolls - there is basically a big cookie cutter machine. The left-overs and any coins not perfect enough for circulation are "waffled" and sent back to the manufacturer to be melted down and recycled into new big metal rolls.
  • They are still hoping dollar coins catch on because they last 20-30 years instead of 18 months like the paper dollars
  • They make 13 million gold dollar coins a DAY
  • Pennies make up about half of what they mint because people put them in jars instead of spending them.
  • Pennies minted in Philadelphia do not have a "P" on them. Pennies were the first coins minted and the "P" was not necessary at the time since Philadelphia was the first mint. The no "P" is a continuation of the tradition.
  • One machine can make 12 pennies a second!
  • They have to change the "die" (or stamp) at least once a day for the pennies, and 2 or 3 times a day for the other coins
  • The nickel metal composition is so hard that they have to soften the blanks before stamping or it will break the die
  • About 1/4 of the U.S. gold buillion is stored in Denver, and Denver is the only gold storage area that allows public tours.
  • There is a little window in between the stairs of the main entrance that a guard used to sit with a machine gun, a rifle, a pistol and tear gas. It was so hot in the booth the guards would fall asleep, so they took turns serving 1 hour shifts. The booth was used until the 1960s.
  • The original part of the mint building was the second building in Denver to have electric lights (the 1st was the Capitol). The light fixtures in the hallways and foyer are original.
  • The U.S. mint has minted coins for 42 other countries.
  • The coins are distributed by unmarked tractor trailer trucks. However, if you plan to rob one - bring a forklift. (Hey - that's what our tour guide said!) The bags of coins weigh almost a ton each.

The kids seemed to have a good time. The tour was kid-friendly and they behaved nicely. (PTL!) SnugBug was fascinated by the big machines, and Punkin was fascinated by the pictures of all the state quarter designs. She took the quarters they gave us and found the matches of the designs posted on the wall. She also said that she was surprised there were so many police officers around - I don't think she really grasps how fast that change can add up! It is amazing to me too. They had a tall jar of nickels in the entry lobby area - over $4000 worth of nickels!