What a busy few days. Let’s see if I can cram some of what’s happened, and is about to happen, into a post of reasonable length.

We spent last weekend enjoying a fine Indiana freshwater recreation site with some good friends and family. The weather continued to be ridiculously hot, but being in the water was a fine way to cool off. The girls learned how to jump off a dock, pedal a paddle boat (or is it pedalboat?), and were lucky enough to watch fireworks from the water thanks to some friends. A pretty solid weekend.

For some reason I decided to schedule a playdate for C. on Monday. I don’t recommend inviting two six year olds over after you’ve spent three days someplace else. Then M. had her own playdate Tuesday. Fortunately S. just began a run of several days off, so I wasn’t solely responsible for entertaining the girls and their friends.

In fact, Tuesday I took the first step in my newest hobby. I brewed up a batch of beer. I’ve been toying with the idea for a while, and a buddy pushed me over the edge when he started brewing earlier this summer. I visited the local speciality brewery store a couple weeks ago, picked up some tips and a book which I’ve been reading. Monday I drove down and got my supplies and first kit. I took a bunch of notes Monday night, made a script I would work off of, and got to work after lunch Tuesday. Three hours later, my brown ale was sealed into the fermenter where it will sit and, hopefully ferment, for the next two weeks. Then I’ll prime and bottle, let it sit for another couple weeks, and right around the time M. and C. are going back to school, I’ll be able to sample the first run of B. Brown.

The process seemed to go smoothly today. I avoided the dreaded boilovers. I didn’t spill anything or make any mistakes in the order I added the ingredients. And when I dumped the brewing kettle, there wasn’t a huge mess of malt extract and hops stuck to the bottom. I’m not saying the process was flawless: there are a couple things I’m worried about, but I don’t think they’ll be catastrophic. The thing that held be back from trying this before was my concern that between the time investment and the final yield, this can be a frustrating hobby if you make a mistake. I don’t want to pour out two cases of beer if I didn’t sanitize my fermenter properly, or didn’t let the malts boil long enough before adding the first round of hops. And it will be a bummer to spend parts of a couple days brewing and bottling, and then a month waiting for it to be ready, only to be disappointed by the final product.

But I think this is easier to do than it used to be, provided you do some research and follow the instructions. I’m already thinking about what my next batch will consist of.

The downside is our house kind of stinks, which I don’t mind but S. isn’t loving.

Then, of course, there are the MLB All-Star activities in Kansas City I’ve been following closely. I’ll write more about those later.

The final large item on our agenda is a trip to Denver that begins this Friday. We’re heading out to visit our family members who live there, including the girls’ newest cousin. I’ll also be going to a Rockies game with my brother-in-law, eating at the restaurant my sister-in-law manages, and meeting up with some old KC friends who have relocated to Colorado. That’s all cool stuff, but the girls might be most excited about flying on a plane. M. and C. haven’t flown since our last visit to Denver, over four years ago. And L. was just a tiny fetus we weren’t yet aware of on that trip, so she obviously doesn’t recall it.

Like I said, busy times.