Monday, November 11, 2013

Family Feud

On Saturday we attended a youth league basketball game at the YMCA.   It was the orange vs the red, Maddison vs Mason, sibling vs sibling.  The kids both did a great job and showed some hustle.  Mason moves non-stop on the court.  I am not sure if he really knows what to do, but he sure puts a lot of energy into it.  Maddison plays like I image I would if I had ever played basketball.  She gets the ball and stops, contemplating what to do and how to do it.  This is probably not the best approach to a fast paced game, but we are thinkers!  Last week I missed the games, but Maddison was the high scorer on her team.  No matter how the teams score, the kids are both winners as they are getting some great exercise and building some team skills. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's Fall Y'all!

Is there anything better than a passel of kids, a wagon full of straw and a sunny fall day?  If there is, I can't think of it.  Two weeks ago we hosted our extended family's annual fall get together.  We had a weiner roast, a bonfire and a hayride.  It is an event I look forward to every year.
From left, Rylee, Amelia, Katie, Maddison, Ryan, Mason and Gabe.  We were missing Raelynn, the newest member of the clan, as she decided she needed a nap.  I hope these children stay close as they grow up.  It sure is nice to have cousins!
                               Sisters sharing a photo op.
                               My Dad and his brother Bill.
                               My sister and her two youngest grandchildren.

Friday, September 27, 2013

And so the School Year Begins. . .

I am blessed to have a flexible job that permits me to attend the grandkids events during the day.  Josh and Amanda were notified this week that Maddison would be getting an award at school and her family was invited to attend.  I tagged along with my camera and enjoyed an outdoor awards assembly with all the 3rd graders at the school.  Maddison got an award for "Academic Excellence" in all subjects. We are proud that Maddison does well in her class.  She is a sweet little girl who rarely causes any trouble and has a bit of a competitive streak in her.  Maddison seemed very pleased that her dad and I got to be there.  Josh got a big old hug and kiss as he congratulated her on her achievement.  I love attending the kids activities (well, I have to admit that sometimes the sporting events get rather old for me. . . I spent so many, many years following Josh's wrestling, baseball and football activities I may be a tad bit burned out).  We try to make as many events as possible because we know just how quickly these years race by. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rhocc and Roe

We recently dog sat for two of our grandpuppies.  Sad to say, the larger dog, Rhocc, was hit by a car on our gravel road while staying here.  Randy took him to the vet, but they had to put him down.  Jessica and Scott were 600 miles away when it happened, so that made it even worse.  For some reason, animals are naturally drawn to Mason, and he is drawn to them.  This photo was taken the day before the accident.  Rest in peace Rhocc.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Estes Park Colorado

On our way home from South Dakota, we detoured to Estes Park.  I have been to Colorado many, many times but never to Estes.  It was magnificent.  I loved the Big Thompson River and could not seem to get enough of it!  We were there right after Labor Day and just two weeks later they are experiencing a great deal of flooding in the area. 

Some of our friends and family suggested that we check out the YMCA of the Rockies.  I was impressed with their facilities and especially the pets (see above) they had roaming around the grounds.  There were a herd of elk just wandering around the tennis and basketball courts.  This fellow just slowly made his way towards us.  I think he wanted his picture taken!

We decided to take the Trail Ridge Road up the mountain at Estes.  It was a rather long and often frightening drive to the highest point in Colorado.  The scenery was amazing, but for a girl who is afraid of heights, it was a bit overwhelming!

We finally made it to the top and were rewarded with a great view and a nice visitors' center.  Randy experienced a bit of altitude sickness, so we didn't stay long.  While we were there, we watched a herd of elk make their way up the side of the mountain.  When we left for the drive the temperature was 83, when we arrived at the top it was 54 degrees.  I loved the experience, but I was glad to get off the mountain!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

South Dakota 2013

 We recently returned from a road trip to South Dakota.  This is our third trip to the area and will probably be the last for quite a while.  Although we love the state, we have seem most of it and have quite a few other spots on our "bucket list".  If you have never been to see Mount Rushmore, you really should put it at the top of your vacation list.  It is beautiful and inspires a patriotic feeling that is hard to match outside of the D.C. area.
 Randy and his brother Jim rarely let us take photos of them.  I am not sure why, but I have very few of just the two of them.   Jim and Randy have very different likes and lives, but they have remained close over the years and are truly good friends.  We manage to see Jim and Joanne once or twice a year, even though they live 1500 miles away!
 A wonderful surprise on this trip was a scenic drive through Custer State Park.  We took the Needles Road, which was beautiful and was named after this rock formation that looks like the eye of a needle.
 A trip through Custer would not be complete without seeing the buffalo roaming around.  We got caught in a hail storm during this drive, which seemed to make the buffalo rather motionless.  They are majestic animals and I love to watch them.
I love to photograph the changing skies in the West.  This was taken in Custer on the Needles road.  Shortly after I shot this the hail started coming down!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Almost without exception, this describes me.  Thanks for sharing, Michelle.  I don't have low blood pressure, but I am going to diagnose myself as an introvert. Very interesting!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

School Days. . . and Memories of Days Gone By

I got to go to open house at Mason's school tonight.  He will be in 1st grade this year and has a first year teacher who seems sweet and confident.  There were pencils and little desks, blackboards and chalk.  I saw crayons and books, water fountains and bulletin boards.  I watched the parents and children wander through the halls and talk to teachers and find the totes for the backpacks of school supplies.  But what I was really seeing was the second grade classroom at North Park School circa 1980.  My mom taught 2nd grade in the same classroom for almost 25 years.  Her room was next to the office, second room on the left when you entered the building.  She had a wall of windows and a little bathroom in the back corner.  There was always some kind of animal in the room, often fish and hamsters.  The smell was of chalk, pencils and old Chief Tablets.  The hallways echoed with the sounds of children and the click of heels on the polished floors.  I spent many, many, many hours in that room helping my mom.  We put up bulletin boards and alphabet charts.  We marked and organized books and learning resources.  I got to see first hand what it takes to be a great teacher. . . dedication, compassion, love and kindness.  I observed a woman who had honed her craft to a fine science and knew how to reach children and make them feel loved.  She never won any "teacher of the year" awards.  Her students didn't top the charts in the old "achievement" tests.  Her classroom didn't sparkle with perfection and shine.  But what she had was a unique and special knack for touching the children who needed her.  The children who came from homes where turmoil prevailed, the children who were shy and did not like school.  The children who were picked on by others. 
We lost my mom 27 years ago to breast cancer.  She never got to retire from the job that defined her life.  She had a very short time with 4 of her grandchildren and has 3 more she never got to meet.  In her short years, she left a legacy of  love to over 500 children.  Many still remember her and the hugs she gave out.  I know this because her former students still tell me stories about her and the warm experiences they had in her care.
Each year that goes by, I hope that some of the pain of losing my mom lessens.  And I guess it has.  But then there is that school smell, those visual memories of a primary classroom and all the other trappings of an elementary school.  In an instant I am transported back to that little room, and a sweet teacher named Mrs. Hall.  I wish I could tell her what an impact she had on her students.  I wish I could talk to her just one more time and tell her about the impact she has had on my life and how I still strive to be more like her.  For today, I will have to settle for the smell of chalk, the sound of echoes in the hall and the alphabet charts on the walls. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thank you!

 My sister, Debbie made some cute sun dresses for her granddaughters.  I was jealous of her talent, so I asked her to make one for Maddison, since I really do not like to sew.  The plan was to get the girls together and take a photo of them in their colorful sun dresses.  However, the timing just did not work out, and by the time they are together again it will be mid fall, and the weather will probably not allow such an outfit.  Maddison likes her dress and wanted to thank Aunt Debbie!
We have had an unusually nice August with several nice rain falls and cooler temperatures.  It is rare to see umbrellas around here in late summer.  I cannot believe how tall Mason is getting. . . he is going to be a 1st grader this year!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Taylor to Taylor

 Can anyone guess what we did last weekend?  Maddison's shirt holds a gigantic clue. . . For Christmas, 2012, Maddie got tickets to see Taylor Swift in KC. . . she selected some escorts including her mom, her Aunt Bea and me!.  We decided to make it an "all girls" weekend and combine it with some back to school shopping.  What a fun get-away!
 This picture pretty much shows how Maddie was prior to the concert.  She has loved Taylor for a long time (well, at least to a young child) and pretty much knows the words to all of her songs.  She was excited!
 Maddie and her mom made this sign in hopes that it would win her a ticket to Taylor's Tea Party after the show.  She didn't get picked, but some girls right in front of us did.  We  had great seats and really enjoyed the concert.
 When Taylor switched stages, we were very close to her.  Her concert had some amazing choreographing and costumes.  It was very theatrical!
 I just had to throw a picture in of Mason and his missing tooth.  He lost a bottom tooth, but this photo doesn't do the gap justice.  Mason stayed home and got to hang out with the guys and do fun "guy stuff".
A rather sober Maddie gets ready for the second half of the weekend. . . shopping.  She wasn't nearly as excited about shopping as she was seeing Taylor Swift!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Garden Beauty

We get so much joy out of our 3 little garden boxes.  My husband and I both grew up in families who enjoyed summer garden produce by the bushel basket full.  Randy's grandmother was famous for her huge strawberry patch and the wonderful jellies and shortcakes that came from it.  In my home, summers were spent sitting on the porch swing snapping green beans and the smell of canning was always in the air.  Somehow, the ability to garden (and the desire to do so) skipped our generation.  It wasn't until a few years ago that we began to dabble in gardening.  I am pretty sure the motivation was to enrich our grandchildren's lives and let them experience the "ground to table" cycle.  For several years we have had 3 garden boxes off our back deck (about 2 and 1/2 feet high, 5 foot long and 3 foot wide) in which we grow tomatoes, zucchini and peppers.  The kids get such a kick out of watching the vegetables grow and mature.  They help water the garden and pull weeds.  Lately, I have noticed that Randy and I are the ones getting the most joy from these veggies.  I have noted in previous posts that we have added lots more veggies to our diet.  We eat zucchini at least twice a week now.  So, when we saw the beautiful blooms on our zucchinis last week we did a little happy dance (okay, maybe just a squeal of joy!).  The blooms were so gorgeous I had to get my camera out.  We now have some small squash on the vines and anticipate eating these straight from our garden in the next week or so.  I am almost embarrassed to tell you that, while living on 50 acres offers many opportunities to have a large garden, these little boxes are all we have.  Last year we attempted to plant cantaloupe, watermelon, potatoes and corn in our little creek bottom land but the animals and drought wiped the crops out.  So, for now, we are happy to step out our back deck and watch the cute little veggies grow.  We are anxiously awaiting the hundreds of cherry tomatoes to ripen on our one gigantic bush.  This plant is so big and heavy we have had to get fence posts to prop it up.  How is your garden growing this year?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Keeping it Real (maybe too real!)

I blogged last week about Randy blacking out.  As a follow up to his hospitalization, he had an MRI on his back done Monday.  Today he saw a specialist who basically told him that his back was shot and there wasn't anything that could be done to make it better.  Not good news to a man who has been suffering with back pain for close to a year.  Tomorrow he will see the Dr. about his bad knee.  I have been debating about blogging about this and some of the health issues Randy is facing.  And since the purpose of this blog is to record our life (good and bad) as a sort of written history for our children and grandchildren, I felt that this information should be included.
For the most part, we are positive people, so we are choosing to look at the bright side of this news.  It is not terminal.  He has been living with the pain for months, so the news that it is not getting better is really no news.  We have support to help us get through this.  We have each other, and, yes, it is a terrible cliché, but it is true. 
Our life in the past year has changed drastically.  Many of the traditional roles we have had in our marriage have reversed.  He has not been able to work since January.  He has taken on the role of family "worrier", which used to be my role.  He is learning to do things around the house that he has never done before because there was never a need. 
Life will go on.  We will find a way to enjoy life in spite of the challenges we face.  We will continue to enjoy each day and each loved one in our life.
There may be some regrets (mostly that he can't do what he used to do).  But mostly there will be opportunities. . . opportunities to find the joy in life, opportunities to share that joy, opportunities to become better people and be an example to others.  Today has been rough.  Being told that your chances of ever feeling better are slim, is not easy to hear.  Tomorrow is a new day and we will learn to move forward and find a way to make it better.  Mostly, we will remember to laugh again. . . Laughter has always been the best remedy for us and I am certain that this situation is no exception. . . really.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


On Monday afternoon my husband blacked out in a grocery store parking lot.  He fell all the way to the ground, injuring his knee and his pride.  Some good Samaritans helped him up and he finished some shopping and drove home.  I didn't know about this until I got home a couple hours later.  After two hours of harping and cajoling, I talked him into a trip to the ER.  When  we arrived at the ER, his pulse and blood pressure were very, very low.  He was lightheaded and dizzy. 
To make a long story short (er), he has spent the last two days in the hospital.  The doctors are not really sure what caused the problem, but they are running lots of tests and are changing some of his medications.  He has been xrayed, photographed, magnetized and poked.  He is ready to come home.  He wants his knee to stop hurting.  He is counting his blessings.
Nothing like a little jolt in the daily life to make you appreciate what you can sometimes take for granted.  I am fairly sure that I need to stop writing about this right now.  I think I need to get some much needed sleep so I can face the hospital again tomorrow.  I think it will eventually hit me that he had a very close call and that things could have been so much worse.  I hope it hits me when I am feeling stronger.  I hope it hits me when I am not exhausted and worried about him, our family and work.  I hope I can forget that this happened and go back to not worrying about this happening again.  The bliss of not imagining what my life would be like without him in it.  The bliss of life the way it was before Monday.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blessings in Threes/ A Father's Day Tribute

I have many, many blessings in my life.  This weekend I am thinking of three blessings that have greatly influenced my life, past, present and future.
As luck would have it, I was born into a family where the duties of parenthood were taken very seriously.  As the second daughter of educators, I was taught to value education.  My mother taught second grade and was one of the sweetest, kindest women to ever walk the earth.  She gave me patience, love, compassion and friendship.  My father taught high school biology, and later became my high school principal.  He did not show affection easily, but he took his parenting responsibilities seriously.  Not only was he a good provider, but he took care of many of our physical needs.  He made sure we were bundled up in the winter, sat with us when we were ill and taught us how to fish and garden (neither took very well with me, but he tried!).  I even remember him drying my hair in the winter in front of our old gas stove.  We NEVER wanted to disappoint my dad and he made sure we knew that his expectations for us were high.  All three of his children completed college and have enjoyed professional careers.  I have a lot to thank my dad for.  I always knew he was there, I always knew he cared.
Thirty four years ago I married the man who would father my two children. I first fell in love with his humor, his passion and his kind nature.  God must have been watching out for me when he led me to Randy, because I could never have picked anyone so perfect, for me, on my own.  I loved Randy when we got married, but I fell completely in love with him when he became a father.  He certainly knew what his priorities were when we found ourselves with two small children only two years into the marriage.  He worked hard to make a living for us and to take care of our physical needs.  He worked a swing shift and hated to be away from home more than anything in the world.  Yet he would leave for work early in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon, or after we were in bed because he had a good job that kept our needs met.  But it was his passion for being a father that I admired most.  He loved to laugh and make the kids laugh.  We have shared hours and hours of belly aching laughter over the years.  He enjoyed sharing his knowledge with the kids and taught our son quite a bit about tools, sports and life in general.  He was a little more unsure about what to teach a girl, but somehow he managed because our daughter has the same quick wit and passion that her father has.  Jessica and her dad are more alike than either of them want to admit!  He continues to be an exemplary father and grandfather.  There is nothing he wouldn't do for his family.
Almost 32 years ago, Josh was born.  He was my baby, my tow headed energetic, ornery boy.  Josh has always made me proud.  He is a devoted son and a good friend.  My admiration for Josh took on a whole new dimension when he became a dad.  There is something so special about watching a child you raise become a parent.  If we ever doubted our parenting ability, seeing Josh with his children relieved those doubts.  Josh is an amazing husband and father.  He, too, works a job that keeps him away from his family.  I know that it is hard for him to pack his bags and say goodbye for 24 to 48 hours at a time.  Several years ago he took a job hundreds of miles away so he could provide a better future for his family.  He hated it, he missed them, but he did it because it was the right thing to do.  Josh is a patient and kind father.  He had a good role model, and he is being a good role model to his children. 
I am not sure why I have been so blessed with the people in my life.  I work with people every day who have very little family, negligent family or family who take advantage of them.  I know what I have is precious and rare.  I try to not take for granted that I am surrounded by people who love me and support me.  This weekend I will celebrate the men in my life.  I will say a little prayer of thanks that I have been blessed to have them!  I will feed them well and honor them and make sure they know how I feel.
Happy Father's Day!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Tea for Four?

We have had a great deal of rain this spring and early summer.  This has really cut into the outside time the kids and I enjoy.  Last week when I got home from work, the kids had fixed up a "surprise" tea party for us.  They had a great time pulling this together and we enjoyed partaking in the feast.

The Midwest is experiencing floods and the farmers have had a difficult time getting into their fields to plant.  We had planned on putting a garden in our bottom field, but it has been so wet, we haven't been able to till the ground up.  I guess we will have to settle for tomatoes, peppers and squash which we planted in raised boxes by our back deck. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Holy Cow!

I live in a rural area in the Midwest and have a cattle farm on two sides of my home.  I live with a man who loves meat.  Yet, recently, I decided to dabble in a vegetarian lifestyle.  Let me explain.  I love documentaries.  Last week before we left for Illinois, I watched, "Vegeducated."  This is a film about 6 adults who adopted a vegetarian lifestyle for a few weeks.  The film showed how animal confinement operations work and how animals raised for meat are treated by these big operations.  In spite of the fact that I have been raised around farms, the footage made me sick.  This was not the peaceful rural hillsides of rural America where cattle graze and chickens wander.
This movie got me thinking about trying a vegetarian diet.  In the past year Randy and I have drastically changed our eating habits.  This is mostly out of necessity, since he has been having lots of stomach problems as a result of his recovery from salmonella.  We have discovered lots of new vegetables and have tried new ways of preparing old standards.  Growing up we always had vegetables, primarily canned green beans, tomatoes and corn.  Pretty standard for middle income, Midwest people.  For 33 years I have prepared meals based around this plate:  meat, carb, vegetable.  However, recently, it has been less meat, rarely a carb and at least two vegetables.  A funny thing has happened to us lately, we now plan our meals around the vegetables we have.  Our refrigerator is stocked with kale, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and squash.  When we eat out, we scan the menu for vegetables.  For lunch today we ate at Wendy's and both had a baked potato with broccoli instead of fries.  It was delicious!  This may not seem odd to you, but it is quite a bit different diet than we used to eat.
So, back to my attempt at vegetarianism.  We left for Illinois on a Saturday morning and stopped at Hannibal, Mo for lunch.  The restaurant was called Fiddlestick and offered a wide menu, similar to an Applebee's.  They had a large selection of salads and sandwiches, non of which were free of meat.  I settled on a pasta meal with steamed vegetables.  It was incredibly good.  Steaming hot and perfectly cooked broccoli, carrots and cauliflower on top.  This is going to be easy, I thought.
We arrived in Springfield and after some shopping and relaxing, we decided to eat at Cheddars.  I knew that I would order their vegetable platter, which I enjoy even when I am not reducing my meat consumption.  The next morning for breakfast we had a bagel at a local bakery.  I was feeling really great and had not missed meat at all.  The morning was spent at the Lincoln Museum, which (handy for me) had a Subway within it's walls.  I convinced Randy to eat there, even though he does not like Subway, so I could have a veggie sandwich.  The rest of the afternoon was spent touring the Lincoln home and other area attractions.  That evening we headed to a Cracker Barrel.  I had enjoyed the vegetable platter there before and decided that would be my choice.   I asked for the pinto beans, broccoli and salad, without bacon bits.  When my food arrived, the beans had some kind of sausage in them (which I am pretty sure was not mentioned on the menu) and the salad was covered with tiny bacon bits.  In stead of sending these back I just picked the meat out and ate the food.  The waitress apologized and ended up comping my dessert (blackberry cobbler, my favorite!).
On the way back home, I began to wonder what restaurants I could visit in our local community and stay meat free.  Our chain restaurants are a Hardees (no meat substitutes there), Pizza Hut, McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell and Subway.  A few local favorites have salads, but no vegetarian main meals.  We eat out one to two times a week, so keeping meatless seemed like it would require a major lifestyle change.
I began to read some about being a vegetarian, and happened to see a facebook post about flexitarianism.  This is a made up word (I think) and means to enjoy meat and other animal products in moderation and increase the consumption of plant based foods.  This idea seems so sensible to me, I decided to adopt it as my new eating guide.  I will continue to enjoy meat, on a smaller scale and keep my lifestyle intact.  Randy is fairly relieved that I decided to keep some meat in my life, as he enjoys meat, even though his body won't let him eat as much as he would like.
I have always considered myself fairly moderate, so this is not much of a stretch for me.  My little meatless weekend was enjoyable and proved to me that I can modify my diet with little or no suffering. 
Please share any vegetarian or vegetable based recipe you enjoy.  I am branching out!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Well Hello Mr. Lincoln!

 While in Springfield, IL, we visited an amazing outdoor and sporting goods store called Scheels.  This store had an indoor ferris wheel, displays of the presidents, a beautiful salt water aquarium and lots more.  The prices reflected the amount of money they put into the place, but we grabbed a couple of t-shirts from clearance and really enjoyed our visit!
 This is a photo of Lincoln's home (the only one he ever owned).  We took a nice tour of the home and enjoyed walking around the neighborhood some.
 Before we came home, we decided to seek out Lincoln's Tomb.  It was worth the time to see this.  It was in a beautiful cemetery and was very majestic looking.
The Lincoln Museum was one of the best museums I have been to.  It had a nice variety of displays, a play area for children, and was generally well done.  My favorite display was a modern looking TV studio featuring Tim Russert "covering" the election of 1860.  I am a fan of Tim Russert and it was a nice way to "modernize" the election and make it relevant. 

We just got back from a nice weekend trip to Springfield, Il.  The trip was a gift from our children for a combined Mother's Day and Father's Day gift.  We stayed at a nice hotel just two blocks from the Museum Complex.  We reserved a hotel so close to minimize Randy's need to walk long distances.  (He has been having an awful time with arthritis and his deteriorating ankle).  But as it turns out, we drove everywhere we went because the town is so easy to get around in, and his ankle was just killing him!  It has been quite a while since we have left home and it was nice to have a change of scenery.  I highly recommend this trip to anyone who likes history or wants to learn more about Abe Lincoln. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Last week Maddison's class had a cute little end of the year, graduation program (the 2nd grade glass will change schools next year and go to a middle school).  The program was "I Need A Vacation".  Maddison had several solo parts and (excuse the Grandma bragging), she did a wonderful job.  She projected her voice, and remembered her lines.  In the lower photo, Maddie and classmate, Sam prepare for one of their solo parts.  As a fun sidenote, Sam is the son of Vickie, who went through 12 years of school with Maddie's Aunt Jessica.  They participated in many, many class programs and plays together.  Maddison and her Aunt Bea are so much alike in their mannerisms, likes and personalities.  During the program, Randy whispered to me: "Who is that little boy behind Jessica?"  Since Jessica was sitting beside us, I turned to look behind her and there was no little boy.  It was then that I realized that he was talking about the little boy on stage behind Maddie.  I had to smile because my mind really wanted to think that we were 25 years in the past watching Jessica perform.  My how time can play tricks on you!
In other highlights of the week:  I had to make an unplanned trip to the eye doctor to discover that I had a challasion(spelling?), which is kind of like a sty that has hardened.  After dealing with it for over two weeks, it is finally getting better.  One of the programs I supervise at work was monitored this week and we lost a long time employee.  One resignation has set off a chain of movement in the programs I supervise.  I don't think there will be any rest for me at work for awhile!
We are contemplating a quick trip soon to Springfield, Illinois to check out the Lincoln Museum.  Our children decided to combine a Mother's Day and Father's Day gift and send us away for a little trip.  It should be fun!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day.

This is a picture of my children.  They are as different as night and day, black and white, left and right.  I love them with all my heart.  I love them in spite of their flaws and I hope they love me in spite of mine.  They gave me the best job in the world, the job with the most heartaches and headaches, the job with the highest of highs and the best of rewards.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day which has always been a little bittersweet for me.  I lost my mother when she was 52 years old, and I was 28.  She died of breast cancer and has been gone for 27 years now.  I still miss her.  I still daydream about how my life would have been different if she would have lived longer.  This will be the third year I have participated in the Mother's Day 5K to raise money for breast cancer prevention.  My daughter-in-law and granddaughter also participate in this event.  I walk in memory of Mom.  I walk in hopes that someday soon there will be a cure for breast cancer (and all cancers).  I wish my children could remember her and could have known her love as I did.

I also think about my mother-in-law on this day.  She passed away 34 years ago this June.  She was like a mother to me.  She was loving, accepting and generous with her time.  She was 45 and died from Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome, unknown cause.  She was not a smoker and had been in good health.  I miss her and also daydream about what a difference she would have made in my adult life.  Many people say that Jessica resembles her in appearance and personality.  I consider that a great blessing.  She was the oldest of 10 children, including 7 brothers.  I wish my children could have know her, it would have certainly enriched their lives.

I now have a step-mother, Martha.  Martha is one of the sweetest, kindest women you will ever know.  She can always find a positive in any situation and she never lets anything mean or disrespectful pass her lips.  She looks about 25 years younger than she is and acts as youthful.  I love her very much and count myself lucky that she is in my life.

I have recently spent a great deal of time pondering the role of parenting adult children.  I am not sure I have been as successful parenting my children as adults.  I have trouble knowing when to stay silent and when to give advice (which is rarely solicited by my children).  Backing off and letting go is not easy and are roles I have not accepted naturally.  Truthfully, I have not had the chance to follow in my mother or mother-in-laws footsteps, since they both died so young.  Maybe I needed to see how they would have handled us as adults (although my mom died when I was 28, she had been ill for quite some time before her death).  I think part of my psych wants to hold on to my kids because I know how precious life is and how it can change in the blink of an eye.  I want to hold them close and tell them that our time together is limited and will not last (something younger people don't usually comprehend).  Of course, who wants to hear that?  So I plod along, doing the best I can to be what they need me to be.  Friend?  Adviser? Counselor? Casual observer?  I am not really sure what the mix should be.  One thing is certain, my children are not afraid to speak up and let me know when I step on toes or go too far into their lives.  I raised two bright, self-confident and well-spoken human beings.  I am proud of the adults they have become.  I hope they are equally as proud of me. 

I have been so blessed in my life to have had so many strong and beautiful women influence me.  I hope someday I will be remembered as a strong woman who did what she could to help the people she loved. 

Happy Mother's Day to all the women out there who had mothers, who are mothers or who will someday be mothers.  May you be as blessed in your life as I have been in mine.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Author's Day

I was invited last week to "Author's Day" at Maddie's school.  I joined her and her class for lunch and afterwards we went to her classroom to look at a variety of items that she had written over the course of the school year.  I always look forward to visiting the kid's school and this was no exception.  Maddie's friend, Natayla, ate lunch with us and boy does she like to talk!  It was fun seeing the interaction between the kids and their guests.
Maddie had written a sweet story about her brother.  In the story she told that Mason is good at sharing and he says nice things to her.  It warmed my heart to see how she feels about her little brother!
In other news, this was a busy weekend.  We joined Jessica and Scott for a "trivia night" on Friday and then on Saturday we went to a local concert featuring a "Johnny Cash" legend. It was fun.  We have gotten into a rut of staying home a lot, I guess because we have had such a harsh winter and spring.  It is time to break out and live a little!  On Sunday we went to Columbia to a Farmer's and Artisan's Market.  It was a fun morning, followed by a little lunch and shopping.  It is hard to go back to work after such an eventful weekend.  This is a short week for me, as we are off on Wednesday for a state holiday (Truman's Birthday).  Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Waiting on the Flowers. . .

It seems like eons since I have blogged.  I really have no excuse, but to say that I have been busy and a bit preoccupied.  So, what does one do when one wakes up at two thirty in the morning and can't go back to sleep?  Well, I guess one blogs!
We are still waiting (not so patiently) for spring to arrive around here.  This past week we woke up to snow, not on the ground, but it certainly covered our grill and patio set.  I had to rub my eyes to make sure I wasn't seeing things.  This is very late in the season to have anything close to snow in this area.  To prove how fickle our weather can be, last week our little radio station reported that the record high for the day (in history) was 90 degrees, and the record low was 29 degrees.  Quite a variation for even weird weather Missouri.  Yesterday we had cool temperatures, rain, drizzle, cloud cover and wind.  It was not a pretty sight!  Tomorrow promises much better conditions with 70 degrees and sunshine.  Finally.
The kids are winding down their school year.  Mason read to me tonight and I about fell out of my chair.  He is a young kindergartener (won't be 6 until July).  His mom bought him a superhero type book with lots of difficult words and he read it to me!  I had to help him with some of the words like gunship, Decepticon (whatever that is) and transformer, but he read.  And I don't mean a little "See Spot Go" type book.  I WAS AMAZED!  One day you are changing their diapers and the next day they are reading you a book.  I am one proud Grandma!
The kids are both playing soccer and Mason is in little league football.  We attended their games last week, which had both been delayed due to the extremely wet spring we are having.  Maddison is doing well, and seems to be getting the idea of soccer.  She is not a very aggressive player, but she enjoys the experience and really had fun being the goalie.  Mason is a quick little guy.  He runs like the wind and loves to snatch the flags off other kids belts (even if they don't have the ball!).
My favorite little camera is not working right now, so my picture taking has slowed down.  I have a much nicer camera, but I have to admit that I favor the small one that I can slide in my pocket.  The better camera is bigger, has lots more buttons to worry with and cannot be stored in my purse.  I guess it is time to dust it off and start to use it again.  I love taking outdoor photos of our farm, especially when the seasons begin to change.  I may have to take the kids with me and go on a photo walk.
I have passed a couple of hours time and really need to see if I can get some sleep.  We have another soccer game to attend tomorrow.  Good night all, or maybe good morning to some!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Could It Really Be Spring?

My camera has been out of commission recently, so I am digging in the archives for some pictures of the kids.  Spring has finally come to our little neck of the woods. Yesterday was 70 degrees, partly sunny and very windy here.  We spent a lot of time outside with the children (wading in the creek, playing on the trampoline, walking in the woods).  It felt so good to have the warm sun shinning down again!
Amanda is in St. Louis today running a half marathon.  I know she will do great!  Jessica and Scott are also in St. Louis this weekend to celebrate his upcoming birthday.  Mason started little league football last week.  His team consists of 3, 4 and 5 year olds. He is one of the bigger kids and can run like the wind!  Maddie and Mason are both starting soccer next week, so life is going to get a little busier than usual.  We have our camping chairs loaded in the truck for some major sideline viewing.
In other news, Randy and I have started a new adventure in becoming healthier.  We are doing a 5-2 fast (The Fast Diet by Michael Mosley).  For 5 days you eat normal and 2 days a week you reduce your calories by 75%, or about 500 a day for me and 600 a day for him.  So far the experience has been good.  The two fasting days go by quickly (we use Mondays and Thursdays) and the other days we don't worry about food, we just eat normal. 
And while on the subject of food, we tried two new recipes this weekend and both were a success.  We made an old fashioned "Dump Cake" using pineapple and blueberry pie filling for the base.  This was a Paula Deen recipe and it was really a good combination.  I have made it before using cherry pie filling, which neither one of us is crazy about, but the blueberry was a great change.  The kids loved it!
My friend and co-worker, Leona, gave me a recipe for a delicious salad and dressing that we had last night.  You toss a salad (she used kale, I used romaine) with thinly sliced apple, thinly sliced red onion, toasted walnuts (I added some sliced English cucumber) and dress it with a combination of: 1T olive oil, 1T light mayo, juice from 1/2 orange, a squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper.  It was so good!  I think I will use the dressing for other salads.  It was fresh tasting and light.  I have been wanting to start making my own salad dressings, and this was a great start.
I  hope to get my camera up and working again soon, so I will try to be a better blogger. 
Have a wonderful day and a super week!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hello, Spring?

What a week of weather this has been.  We have had wind, rain, cold and gray skies.  Now we have blizzard like conditions that are causing a white out here.  Not very spring like in my book.  I would post a picture, but I am, quite frankly, tired to taking photos of the snow!  I can't wait to see green grass, flowers and a little sun around here.  On the agenda for the day:  work I brought home, cleaning the house and staying inside.  I think there may even be a nap in my near future!  Bah Humbug to the snow!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Beautiful Child

It has been a stellar week for Maddison.  As a second grader, she was eligible to participate in the school's spelling bee.  She signed up for the event and practiced her word list.  Out of approximately 40 second graders, she got second place!  It was a nerve racking experience for the children and the spectators.  Many of the kids cried when they missed a word.  I was so very proud of Maddison, who showed a great deal of poise and grace during her participation.  The first part of the bee was held in the cafeteria, but then had to be moved to the art room because the lunchroom was needed.  When the event broke to move rooms, Amanda had to leave for work, and Randy joined me.  We watched as Maddison and a schoolmate were the last two children standing.  And then Maddie got the word "awful".  She started, a, f, and then she stopped.  She knew she had messed up, but she also knew it was too late to go back.  The little boy competing with her spelled his word correctly and won.  She was all smiles as she was awarded the second place certificate.  She will get to continue on to the next level of the competition.  We were so proud of the way she handled herself in a nerve-racking situation. 
About 20 + years ago, Jessica participated in, and won a spelling bee.  Watching Miss Maddison grow and develop is almost like a "do-over" with Jessica.  They look and act so much alike.  They share similar interests and abilitities.  It is a truely "deja-vu" experience". 
On Friday, the school paid homage to Dr. Seuss by having a Seuss Day.  Maddie went as Sally, one of the Seuss characters (pictured above).  Her brother, surprisingly, did not want to dress up for the occassion. 
Both inside and out, Maddison is a beautiful child.  She is kind, compassionate and sweet.  Part of me is sorry to see her grow up so fast, but part of me can't wait to experience all that is in her future. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Yesterday morning I woke up early and, like a small child, couldn't wait to see what surprise the night had delivered to us.  As predicted, we had a massive amount of snow on the ground.  I could hear the wind howling and see the snow blowing around outside our windows.  I turned on the tea kettle and grabbed the TV remote.  Not too surprising, there was no signal on the TV.  The satellite dish was covered with 10 inches of snow and could not receive a signal.  Bingo!  There was my excuse to go outside.  It was not quite light yet when I pulled on my husband's snow boots and his big Carhart jacket.  My pajamas completed the ensemble (you will have to use your imagination on this one, there will be no photos!).  As I stepped outside the quiet hit me.  I mean it was so quiet I could hear myself breath the cold air.  The wind had died down and was making the slightest whisper through the trees.  Tiny ice pellets mixed in with the snow and made a soft tinkling sound as they hit the ground.  I lumbered over to the satellite dish (about 20 yards away from the house) and used my gloves to wipe it off.  As I turned to follow my own footsteps back to the house I heard a tree limb crack in the woods.  I stopped.  I listened.  The sounds around me were so muted I had to pay close attention to hear them.  No traffic.  No animals scurrying about.  No vehicle noise from neighboring farms. I closed my eyes and just felt.  I felt the snow/ice pelting my bare face.  I felt the wind tickle my hair as it blew around me.  I felt the cold air on my cheeks.  I opened my eyes and noticed the fluffy snow piles on the trees and roof top.  I watched the tops of the mostly bare trees sway from side to side.  It was almost like I was the only person in the world.  I turned in a small circle oh so slowly, to take in the moment.  My little corner of the world was at peace.  It was beautiful.  It was quiet. I knew I was being blessed to experience this early morning wonder.  I did not want it to end, even as I longed for the warmth of the house.  It was one of those moments that you remember for the rest of your life.  I like to tuck these times away in my memory bank for when I need solace and calm.  This is the third such moment I have had in the last 10 years (one was in the mountains around Custer State Park, one was on an evening boat ride on Thomas Hill Lake).  As the day progressed, many frustrations and obstacles were placed in my way.  The electricity went out, my computer didn't work our tractor got stuck in the muck etc, but I had been centered.  I only had to close my eyes to remember the white and silent world I had been part of that morning.  It was mine and mine alone.  My moment of beauty on a 50 acre plot of land, in the Midwest, during a February snowstorm.  I am grateful for the rare experience and will hold it in my heart and mind forever.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

(Please Don't) Let It Snow!

This February may go down as one of my least favorites (weather wise) ever!  Last week we had a big storm deliver 11 inches of snow to us and work shut down for two days.  Yesterday we got 10 or more inches of snow and work was closed.  Our driveway is a mess, and our 4 wheel drive tractor
can't even make it through!  We were without electric most of the morning, and my darn keyboard is not working correctly!  Okay, now that my whinning is over, it is beautiful, we got to use our generator and all my family is safe!  This too shall pass, but I know for certain that spring will be very welcome this year.  I hope you are safe and sound wherever you are.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Winter Time Blues

Many of you have seen this sort of scene outside your windows this week.  At least if you live in the middle part of the country.  Our little town received 11 inches of snow yesterday in a virtual "white out".  I took both of these photos from our front porch.  And our puppy, who had lots of places to go to get out of the snow, chose to sit on the porch and look pathetic.  And pathetic is the way many of us have been feeling this week.  I believe most of the people I know are tired of winter and all it brings.
This was not the best week in my neck of the woods.  I found out that our agency did not get (re)funded for a program we have operated for 12 years.  The funding all went to the more urban areas of the state.  We lost a retired co worker and my husband's aunt passed away.  In fact, this week could have been called two funerals and a snow storm, since the storm collided with the scheduled funerals.  I made it to Aunt Joyce's funeral, but not the deceased co-workers.
Funerals are odd things.  There is almost a sense of relief when the one you love has ended her suffering.  On the other hand, the grief and sorrow the family feels is heart wrenching.  Aunt Joyce had 5 children.  They are all good people with good families.  She leaves a husband of 50 years who is lost without her.
Joyce welcomed me into the family with open arms 35 years ago.  She made me feel welcome and took me under her wing when I needed love and support.  You see, my husband's mother passed away just weeks before we were to get married.  She was 45 and had been in good health.  I felt like I had lost a second mother.  Joyce was a comfort and blessing in my early married years and helped ease my sorrow and pain.  Even though we didn't stay as close as we had in earlier years, I admired Joyce and her abilities and the love she gave to her family.   Joyce could cook up a storm and often fed dozens of hungry hunters during deer season.  She could sew and craft almost anything she set her mind to.  She was indeed a wonderful homemaker and a kind and loving person.  She will be missed by all who knew her.
Joyce's daughter, Toma, gave a loving, humorous and heartfelt tribute to her mom at the funeral.  I am not sure where she got the courage to write and read what she did, but it touched me deeply.  The memories Toma shared about her life growing up made me realize that the memories we make with our family are really the best legacy to leave.   I pray that the family can enjoy the sweet memories and overcome the pain of the loss.