Of Spring, Vaction, and Grief

Winter seems to be struggling to allow Spring take over. Like a post I saw, “Winter keeps sticking its head back in the door and yelling, “And one more thing…”
I am not a fan of being cold, but what can I say? “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”  He’s taking it away today and hopefully soon it will start warming, but for now, we are surviving this “Sprinter.”

Winter D

I feel like I’ve been struggling too. Winter blues kind of had/has a grip on me and I can’t seem to shake them. I have a myriad of things that are calling my name but I can’t seem to accomplish any of them. Painting. Sewing. Spring cleaning. << whaaat is that?

Confession: That last one, Spring cleaning, my house doesn’t even know what that is anymore.  It seriously does me no good to clean the entire house from top to bottom. By the time I get done with one end, the other end is hosting eight-legged creatures building new webs. It works better to do one room at a time and stretch it out over the entire year. At least I always have at least one clean room this way. maybe. kinda.
So there ya have it. I don’t Spring clean.

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We attended a few Florida sunsets for Spring Break. It was nice to feel warmth when you stepped out the door. Warm being a relative term while we were there. To the Northerners, it was warm but to the natives, it felt coo-oold.

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Life at the beach has changed. It used to be awful. Little kids crying and rubbing sand in their eyes. Carrying a ton of things in while urging a toddler to keep moving. Digging holes in the sand, carrying water, building a castle only to watch them smash it. Someone usually cried from lack of sleep, someone was cold, someone was hot. Food, food, food to drag along, well that one still remains, but for the most part, going to the beach is a lot easier then it used to be.

We take as little as possible. I unload the vehicle and by the time each kid has something to carry, there is very little left for me. Granted, this time we did have my sister and her little tribe along, but it still went very smoothly and I could tolerate a few hours sitting there. I am not a beach lover in case you wondered.

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The days we weren’t at the beach, this guy spent hours here. Toward the end of the week, the weather cooled considerably, but that didn’t stop him. One morning he was swimming and the air temperature was 59 degrees. The water was pretty warm and he claimed as long as he didn’t get out to jump, he was fine. But he still kept getting out to jump…

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It felt so good to spend time with these two ladies in Florida. Yes, we did all the usual kid-care, meal stuff, and laundry while on vacation, but still, to stay in the same house and spend a week together was just good. I value times like this so much.

It wasn’t that we were all there and he was the only one missing, there were others back at home, but still, we all missed Tristan fiercely that week. He would have loved to hear what all was happening, he would have probably been calling in the morning before we were out of bed and just been a big part of the trip, even from home.  It’s time like these that realize you will spend the rest of your life living with this grief. Yes, it changes, it ebbs and flows with different feels, but it will always be there.

My first choice would have been to live life not knowing what this feels like. Since that is not an option, I am glad to carry this weight, to live with this grief, because feeling this means I was privileged to know and love him. I would not trade the years I spent with him to live without this grief.


Live your life so you will long be remembered with love.


In Sickness

The eleventh commandment: Take not thine health for granted.

But if thine health should fail thee:

  • Buy stock in your favorite tissue brand.
  • Invest in earplugs for the long minutes of honking noses.
  • Have trash cans beside every single person for dirty tissues.
  • Make hot or cold drinks, depending on the temperature, wants, wishes, needs, and desires.

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  • Round up enough blankets to keep fighting to a minimum.
  • Prepare to pile blankets on or take them off, depending on the feelings of the inner core.
  • Stock up on any and all meds and overspend on vitamin C.
  • Hand out meds and use force if necessary to ensure the consumption thereof.
  • Wish for a hazmat suit when you hear the honking and barking.

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  • Do copious amounts of homework when meds kick in.
  • Resolve to ignore all moaning and groaning.
  • Do more homework the next day.
    and the next.
  • Know immediately when a certain one is feeling better by the rebounding energy and frustrated sounds emitted from the sisters.
  • When one begins to mend, wait for the next one to fall.

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  • Hand out drinks and give food pep talks to get them to eat.
  • Think about how good the food sounds.
  • Make and consume some of the said food.
  • Warn everyone who comes close to the house that it is contaminated.

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  • Call your Mother and thank her for the flowers. They may have been for Valentine’s day, but they do well for sick days also.
  • Hope that if this plague would happen to get you,
    you would at least lose weight over it.
  • Ignore feelings of illness creeping up on yourself.
  • Take some meds, buck up and keep working.
  • Succumb to the dreaded illness and lay on the couch for a (Sun)day.

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  • Enjoy holding the little one who does not take naps anymore.
  • Try and get a little reading in since you must sit anyway.
  • On a bright, sunshiny and most lovely warm day,
    invest in Clorox wipes and kill every germ in sight.
  • See them getting better, see the end in sight,
    and know spring will surely come one of these days.

Mending Broken

I went to calling hours and a funeral.
I felt a chink in the heart walls so well-built,
a crevice began to open again,
and the tears came trickling out.

There was no comparison between him and her,
nothing about them was the same.
She was old and had lived a full life well.
He was young and in his prime.
But, old or young, a funeral is a funeral
and it pulls out all the emotions
that have been so carefully tucked away.

There are the flowers, sent for cheer,
along with photos and mementos of life filling the tables.
The long lines of people coming and going,
expressing sympathy in whispered words, stretch endless.
Hands, reaching and clasping,
arms tightening and squeezing silent messages.
The water bottles, tissues, and mints for raw throats,
clutter spaces under chairs not sat upon.
Pieces of conversation float through the air,
remember when they said this or did that,
and how we wish for one more word.
Words of songs meant to sooth,
yet they fill the air with sadness all the same.
And all the way up front
is the one lone wooden box.

You fight for control yet slowly, but surely
the heart begins to beat a faster pace,
the teeth clench and muscles tense.
Eyes dart this way and that for an escape
while the mind begins to unravel too quickly.
Tears push behind the eyelids only a blink from spilling
and the hands begin a cold sweat while the feet rush for a swift exit.
The cold darkness swallows the sobs
of the memories that come rushing back, threatening to overtake.

There is no comparison between him and her, really,
but what the mind sees and hears compels a rush of emotions,
cracking the walls so carefully built to guard the heart.

All alone in the darkness of tears,
the heart once again feels all the painful emotions.
Tears for the here and now,
mourning for the past and what was lost,
and an ache for the future and what will never be.

But with each new break, comes a new mending.
When He sees the heart walls chip and crumble,
the Mender returns and with his gentle touch
lends a few more stitches to repair and patch anew.
He speaks in soothing tones while He works,
pouring in healing oil and gently closing more gaps.
He reminds of His goodness and love,
His mercies new every morning
and whispers He has not forgotten.

With time and His touch, the heart will continue to mend,
but the scars and memories will always be a part of it.
While they look painful to most,
they also tell the story of the Mender
and his gentle touch on a heart.



Of Christmas and Random Musings

  • Every year around the first of November I will start feeling the urge to listen to a Christmas carol or two. I generally resist because it is too early and will wait until close to Thanksgiving. After the first song, it is full steam ahead with Christmas music.
    And then, around the week leading up to Christmas, I have had enough. My Christmas music cup doeth overflow and I am done. That very week, of all weeks, I should be listening to it and I just can’t, not one more carol. I really need to change this pattern. Next season I resolve to hold off until 2 or 3 weeks before the 25th and then merrily carol my way all the way through.

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  • Call me the Grinch, but is Christmas decorating worth it? 1 month or less, and we’re packing everything away that we just hauled out. Along with that thought, I want to pitch almost all of my ancient Christmas decor. (but I can’t let my kids see me do it)


  • The best honey mustard dipping sauce: equal parts of mustard, honey, and mayonnaise.
  • My gang thinks the best addition to a soft pretzel is a block of cream cheese to swipe it through.
  • One of their favorite snacks is a chopped apple and a sliced banana mixed with granola and drizzled with honey.

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My Mom made a comforter for all the grandkids for Christmas. That was the extent of Christmas gifts this year with our family. It was quite stress-free. You wouldn’t believe how much fun they had and how long they played with them. Then on the plus side, they took them home and can use them every night. Wonder how many years we could do this until the kids or Grandma refuse. 🙂

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Tyson made Dad a tractor for Christmas.

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From scratch, by hand, welding pieces of metal together until a tractor appeared.

  • Do you all have a 2nd story in your house? If you do, tell me about the stairs. How do you keep them cleaned off? Three of our kids sleep upstairs and I am telling you, half of their belongings are forever hanging out on the steps. Well, maybe not quite half, but at least 1/3. Books, socks, a sweater, a pair of sandals, and the list could go on and on. They race right past it every time they go up. How do I get them to carry at least one item up each time and therefore we would no longer have the issue?
  • I am a list maker. I love a good list of things to do, even if some of it’s irrelevant. Sometimes I will write stuff down that I’ve already completed just so I can cross it off. That makes me feel like I got a lot done. My girls would insert an eye roll here.


  • Too many days at home without productive anything at all to do makes Jack a very bored boy. (and the rest of us about to pull hair) What are things for boys to do in the winter? He does go outside some but there is a limit to that. There is basketball in the garage at other times and then he roams around teasing girls.

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  • How would you build/arrange/create space with wooden lockers in a mud-room? I am scoring Pinterest for ideas but thought maybe one of you would have a tip that must be used.

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  • I introduced my crew to omelets a little while ago. In my mind they were always a mess to make, so many ingredients and all that. I have figured out that if I get everything else ready ahead of time, it’s really not that much work. I fry the sausage, bacon, chop the ham and veggies, and anything else before. If they are for breakfast I’ll do it the day before. If we have them in the evening, I’ll do the prep in the afternoon. Then it’s easy-peasy and once the egg is done, just load it up.
    My crew will then ruin it by putting ketchup all over it before consuming. I add a bit of salsa to mine for an added flavor, much better than ketchup in my mind.

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  • I’m thankful for the wind in the windchimes a few times lately. Ours don’t chime often so when they do, even just a little, I stop and take notice. They always remind me of Tristan. We all got windchimes from different people after he died so now when I hear the chimes, I think of him.  It is amazing how often they will chime just a little at a significant time. It feels like God acknowledging what we’re feeling.

Christmas Now

It is Christmas time, all merry and bright,
carols and bells are ringing,
glad hearts are singing with cheer.
Thoughts turn toward home
and good memories are stirred,
chasing warm circles around the heart.
It is family time, reunited once more,
laughter, conversation and happiness galore.
There are lights twinkling merrily,
woodland greenery strung ‘round the house,
and good food always abounding.
It is Christmas time.

But amid the merry,
deep down in some hearts,
Christmas time does not bring
all the joy and gladness it once did.
An irreplaceable one, gone forever,
a hole in the heart, an ache in the soul,
always abiding and touching
each part of this favorite season.

A sadness fills the air
when a song is heard loud and clear.
The silver bells don’t ring so cheerily
as they once did in the past.
The joy around seems dampened
by the loss felt deep inside.
It is a silent night in the depths of the soul,
there is an ache no one on earth can fill.

The usual jolly has lost its appeal,
the laughter is quiet when thoughts
turn to family gatherings and
we think of the one who is missing.
The emptiness hangs heavy,
tears swell to near overflowing,
and our hearts ache for what we had.
Every moment that was
is now a memory worth reliving.

Our minds turn toward heaven
and know imagination cannot begin to tell,
all the beauty and glory that is Christmas there.
The story retold here on earth,
is alive in heaven today.
Hallelujahs ascend, praises without end,
a glorious resounding of song.
The Christmas story unfolded from beginning to end,
the reason for the songs we sing.
We know without a doubt
that the Christmas we love here,
holds no candle to the one that is there.

While our hearts long for your presence,
to be there with you now,
we will smile for the children
and tell the stories for their memories,
for we want you alive in their hearts
as much as you live on in ours.
We know you would tell us to go on and enjoy,
to smile through the tears and
remember the reason for living.
But in our heart of hearts,
we hang on just a little bit longer,
because Christmas just isn’t Christmas
without you.

Christmas Star

Holiday Snacks

The Holidays call for snacks of all kinds because every time you turn around, there is another gathering to attend. What kind of food gets your attention? Salty? Sweet? Candy? Cookies?

Candy doesn’t get eaten very well around here. I made some last year and it sat here for so long I finally put it in the freezer. Around April I found it and just quietly pitched it. Now cookies or something like that, they are usually gone in no time.

choc covered pretzels

An easy one that my kids all love are chocolate covered pretzels.

My Mom always bought the big twisted pretzels and carefully dipped every single one, nice and neatly. My patience level for that doesn’t even register so I started dumping a bag or two of these in a big bowl, melting chocolate and stirring it together. I poured them out on wax paper and when they were almost dry I broke them apart. They don’t look perfect, but the kids are happy with them!

Gingerbread Men

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I have made these gingerbread men almost every year since Shelly posted this recipe. I’m telling you they are the easiest and the best there is. Once you make these you will never want to do all the rolling and patting and hard work of other, less than stellar, gingerbread men.

Easy Gingerbread Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
 1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 1/2 cups flour
Melt butter and let it cool for 5 minutes.
Mix in all the other ingredients.
Spread on a 10×15 cookie sheet.
Bake at 350* for about 12 minutes.
Cool 5 minutes. Cut into shapes!
Once they are cooled, I drizzle them with a thick glaze/frosting piped out of a bag. If you want to frost and decorate them like little men, go for it.
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 Edit to add: the glaze recipe was just a shot in the dark. Maybe 1 cup of powdered sugar and a few drops of milk to get it to the right consistency. I put it in a small sandwich bag and cut the tip off one corner to pipe it out of.
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Be sure and keep all the edge pieces and drizzle them with icing too. Trust me when I say they disappear just as fast as the little men.
I call these the “mom pieces” because the kids go for the real ones and I can sit here and pop little bites into my mouth and never have a clue how much I actually consumed!

Protein Balls 
This is not necessarily a holiday snack, but a good and easy one, and maybe just a tiny bit healthy.
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Protein Balls
2 C Honey
2 C Peanut butter
1/2 tsp salt
6 C oatmeal
1 C chopped nuts
2 C mini chocolate chips
Mix well and scoop into balls.
Store in the refrigerator.
These can also be frozen and then just pull a few out whenever you need them.
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My kids like these in their lunches as well. I am not a health-nut mom, but if there is something (sorta) healthy they like, better then total junk.
So tell me, what are your favorite Holiday snacks?

How Was Your Thanksgiving?

And were you thankful?
Of course, you were! We are all thankful the month of November and for sure on Thanksgiving day. What about now? Holiday stress, so much to do, what to buy for gifts, and on and on. How quickly do I lose the thankful spirit?

I lost it as soon as we arrive home and I cleaned out a dishwasher with dishes that did not get a proper cleaning. I was quite irate and ready to throw the whole machine out the back door. At 9pm we tore it apart and gave the innards of it a good cleaning. It is now in working order and just that quick, my thankful spirit was back. Why can I not remember, “In everything give thanks” even when the dishwasher fails?  Why do I forget so quickly?

We had a good Thanksgiving weekend. It was busy. Every day was packed with lots of people, good times and good eating.

The Hostetlers are fairly religious about their family get-together at Thanksgiving. You are allowed to skip occasionally, but they’ll want to know where you were and why you were missing. We shall refer to it as ‘loved and missed’ versus nosiness. We are spread far and wide across the states but when Thanksgiving weekend rolls around, most of them gravitate toward the gathering.

There is always, always good food with the Hostetlers. After the good food is consumed they will bring out the snacks. Usually there is an entire table full of snack and the kids think it’s a full feed weekend of junk food. No wonder they don’t want turkey and potatoes.

 I wanted to take a picture of the two girls in the middle because they are twins. The other two thought they needed to be in the photo also …
“because our birthdays are really close.”

We were also with my family and some extended family over the weekend.

Tys arrived on Saturday loaded to ride with one for every size.

When an entire family makes the effort to come and spend a few days with you remembering Tristan, you know they care and you feel loved. This is what my Uncle Dave’s family did for us. We loved every minute of it and are so thankful for them.

If ice cream is your happy place and there is a machine in the garage, you are all smiles.

We made a lot of good memories again. Back in the day when we were all kids, Dave’s would come out to visit and we would have a grand time riding the trails on 3-wheelers and driving jeeps to the cabin. After a while, the boys would give the motors a rest and play football on the front lawn until the grass had given up the ghost. When the game was finished, they piled into the house for more food and good laughs.

Not much has changed. This time they merely upgraded to bigger and better things for the trails and roared through the fields on bikes. Football was given over to the younger generation and a plate of ice cream and cake with coffee sounded like a good idea to add the conversation.

Not too many foods in life are better than this combo.

Grandma had a little tea party with these two little girls.

This Grandma is a special one. She caters to all the grandkids and they know it. She’ll buy their favorite foods, candy or little toys. She stocks up on junk food just for them. If one of them needs something, she is the first one to jump up to help them. She pays attention to each one in special little ways. All the grandkids (and the big kids for that matter) like to go to Grandma’s house because they know she’ll have something for them. We all love Grandma and are happy to be celebrating her birthday next week.

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Back to the issue of ingraining thankfulness into a daily part of our lives.
How do you instill that into your children?
How do you incorporate it into your life?
Talk to me.