My Ohio Family

Growing up in southern Indiana meant traveling to Amish Country Ohio to see my mom’s family. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles and of course Grandma and Grandpa Yoder. Growing up in Indiana also meant weekend visitors in the form of all those mentioned. Whether we were in Indiana or Ohio, when we were together we had a fine time that was not soon forgotten.

I have good memories of going to Ohio for weekends. There were always get-togethers in someone’s backyard, a cabin or a park. After much good food, the old(er) ones would sit and talk while the young ones played old gray wolf or kick the can. Cousins were the best playmates and after we had worn ourselves out we would lie in the grass and catch fireflies after dark.

As we got older, married, and moved around, our times together grew less. We got together on occasions, but it was never long enough. Talk kept circling about having an actual reunion, but it just never happened.

And then Tristan died.

Our cousins came through the line at his viewing and said, “We knew him, but we hadn’t seen him much the last few years, we feel like we really didn’t know him well anymore.” I hated that they missed that part of his life after spending so much time together growing up. They missed the years of him with his wife and kids and knowing his big heart and laughing conversations.

So, when I heard talk about getting together for a weekend, I was happy.
And a good weekend it was.

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There was a host of conversations, catching up on life, renewing friendships, amazement at children grown up and new babies to meet.
Lots of memories were discussed and laughed over. Early morning wake up calls with Aunt Irene, sleeping in Grandma’s basement, cookie baking days, visiting Grandpa in the nursing home and much more. We listened to the Aunts and Uncles recall memories from when they were young and all that happened back in their days. The conversations were rich and full of life.

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We have spread around from here to there across the globe so there were immediate families reuniting and much catching up to do. There were only a few missing and miss them we did.

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The children had a blast. Train rides, bounce houses and games galore, they were never lacking for something to do.

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Dave’s children went all out with the games. There was something for everyone and much, much laughter from everyone watching.

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There were two teams and one person from each team competed against each other to see who completed each task the fastest.

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The kids and big kids rolled and bounced around in these things for hours.
I heard tell that it made for some very sore muscles the next few days.

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In between all the activities, there was a constant display of food. If there is one thing I missed from the Yoder gene pool, it would be the love of all things chocolate. Madison made chocolate cupcakes filled with chocolate mousse and frosted with chocolate ganache. They were well received.

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Family, the ones you grow up with, share laughter and sorrow, heart and soul, and a bond of memories. No matter where you live or how long it’s been, when you gather again, the bond is still there.

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On Saturday night we scrolled through a huge assortment of photos my cousin Melody put together. It spanned the time from Grandpa at CPS to the youngest of the grandchildren and even great-grandchildren.

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It was a great weekend, but we missed Tristan fiercely. He would have loved it, the conversations, the games, reuniting with family and just being a part of it all. He would have been the first one up in the morning and the last one to bed at night, I am sure. I missed him all weekend.

If you have family, gather them together and spend time with each other.
They are a blessings many do not have.

Today!

Today is my birthday.
Today I am privileged. I have things many do not have, privileges many wish for and today I have chosen to be thankful for all of these things.

I am staying home all day, a place I love and something I love to do. I have the privilege of spending the day with my four children. These children of which I speak do not always get along so very well, but how can I complain? Some people only wish for children to hear pestering each other and arguing. Now I did send these children to pick raspberries for a few minutes of peace and quiet, lest you think I am supermom.

My husband is home from a week of fishing and he is working in the office today. I had the privilege of making lunch for him and the kids, something some ladies long for the chance to do, just one more time.

I was also able to clean up the house, sweep and mop the floor and watch Madison bake my birthday cake and plan supper. Today my laundry was washed in my new laundry room, so much fun. The room isn’t finished but the washer had to be moved out there last night due to a water leak. Who cares if it isn’t done, I have a laundry room.

And I am thankful for friends! So many friends wishing me a happy birthday, showing me they care. I am so rich in this area of life while some people long for just one friend.

I am thankful for all these things today, to live another ordinary day, to celebrate another year in an ordinary way. Not everyone has this privilege.

~~~

June was crazy busy.
I had two weddings to photograph, two weekends in a row and both were in IN. Eric then left for the North with a fishing pole and we stayed at Grandma’s for awhile. I think my family had enough of us to last them awhile.

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Who among you is able to photograph this many kiddos and get them all to look and smile? Not me. You can see my attempt in the bottom photo. The top picture was Sarita, lining them up by age.

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The kids just had a blast playing together, or at least my kids did.

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Ice cream. We love ice cream. Tris was especially a fan of ice cream, all hours, any kind, big bowls full or even right out of the bucket. We had the ice cream machine again and used it about 3 or 4 times a day. The kids would come running and line up in a fighting mess to pull the lever and make themselves a cone. Good times, good memories and I’m sure Tris was smiling.

Madison had a birthday while we were at Grandma’s.

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And we celebrated Miss Aleigha’s birthday a week early.
I found the perfect little gift for her this year.
Do you recognize this family?

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We went swimming one day and taught the city-slicker children that a pond is just as good as a pool. Maybe even better if they would just admit it.
On the right, Grant was spraying Libby with his water blaster and she loved it. She would stay right there and wait for him to come back with another load of water.

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Little people chasing fireflies in Grandma’s garden.
On a side note, I need some lessons on gardening from my mother.

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This cat is thee most patience cat I have ever seen! The kids can do anything to her and she seems to love it. Grant named her Sandy-Clete. ? 🙂

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We were happy to spend Father’s Day with this man. He has invested hours and hours into our lives and now he is doing the same for his grandchildren.

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Tys cleaned up Tris’ old truck.

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And while we were busy at Grandma’s, he kept himself entertained tossing a line in the water and reeling it in. It is beyond my comprehension that this could be called fun, but he claims it is.

~~~

Now my friends, I am off to sit on my porch and enjoy this beautiful, sunshiny day while ignoring the spider webs. Why don’t you do the same?

Spring Days

The dogwoods are blooming, tree buds are opening, and flowers are showing up overnight. My ferns are starting to unfurl and things that I have no name for are popping up in the flower beds. We here at the little house in the little woods are quite happy to see that nature is closing in around us and we are no longer able to see the road. All that to mean, the people on the road are no longer able to see us!

April was a triple hitter with things happening, but May is going to knock it right out of the ballpark. I don’t know if my brain will be able to keep up with my body. Sadly, June is shaping up to look exactly the same. Slow, lazy summer, where art thou?

We were in IN for Easter.
It was a good weekend and we enjoyed spending time with family again, but we all missed Tris. There is just a big empty spot in all of our hearts now. Everything we do reminds us of how much he would have liked it or something he would have said or done.

I was thinking about Easter, the resurrection, our situation and what this day represents for those who have lost a loved one. Because of this resurrection, we have hope and believe me when I say hope is a beautiful thing. 

Grandma and Grandpa put a little cabin back in the woods, “for the grandkids'” they said, but we all like to spend time back there. We roasted hotdogs for lunch on Saturday.
And I heard you thinking the word redneck. What in the world would make you think that? Perish the thought! 😛

This little guy can’t wait for the day he can drive his Dad’s jeep.
The rest of us can hardly wait either because we have a good feeling about him.

Of course, there was a lot of this.
Big guys teaching the little guys.

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This guy has been dreaming of ball games day and night. He will beg and plead endlessly for someone to play with him.

Once upon a time, I baked bread frequently… lately, um, not so much. The other week Eric found a big batch of morel mushrooms so I decided to make some fresh bread to go with them. I forgot how good it is.

Do not take this girl to a store such as this. If given permission she would empty your wallet before you could turn around.

~~~

These girls, when their Sunday school teacher’s birthday was coming up, they planned a party to surprise her. Or maybe it was just an excuse for them to have a party.

Sadly the night turned quite chilly but they wrapped up and had a good time.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to worry about making the dessert with my in-house baker.

~~~

Our neighbors have a rooster.
The little chicken living here has learned to call to him and he will often answer.

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A few questions:

If you were painting a mudroom and laundry room, what color would you paint?
What do you have, or wish to have, in either of those rooms that is most important?
What is a good organization system in the mudroom so it doesn’t look like a shoe store just threw up?
And any other good things about either of these rooms?

Things I Learned on Vacation

Vacation [vāˈkāSH(ə)n] noun: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.

  • There is no such thing as the word ‘rest’ for the Mom while on vacation.

Everyone still needs all the things they needed before. Everyone still says “mom” and many more times than need be. All we did was leave the house and drive many hours to keep doing most of the things we did here.

  • While on vacation the father of the tribe does more than he is given credit for.

When he gets sick and spends a day in bed and another day recovering, you quickly realize how much weight he pulls.

  • Watching your kids learn about history is fun.

I am not a big history lover like their Father. He could stand in a museum and read for hours. I, on the other hand, get all twitching and itchy after 10 minutes of reading. The kids were highly intrigued with the Titanic and came away with lots of new information.
They were especially interested in this Captian and his story.

  • Cell phone addiction is a serious problem and some people are in need of rehab.

We spent a few days at an indoor water park and the kids loved it. I mainly spent my time people watching and standing in the shallow water keeping an eye on Kennedy.
I knew that people are addicted to their phones, but this took it to a whole new level. Seriously, people could not put their phones away to swim! They had them around their necks in a waterproof case or just carried them in their hand while they swam. (or tried to swim) Some of the parents carried theirs but for the most part, it was the teenagers and a few younger kids.
I overheard a conversation and I assumed it was a mom and her son. She was trying to get him to put his phone in her bag while he went into the water. He had all the attitude in the world as stated that he would not be putting his phone down for anything, not even swimming. As I said, rehab!

  • One little boy can do a lot of damage to some wings.
  • It takes a lotta, lotta food to feed this tribe when you eat out!
  • Little things can create great arguments.
    Like pushing the elevator buttons.
  • When the youngest of the clan calls from the backseat of the van and says she doesn’t feel good … you better MOVE! Now! Enough said on that subject.

  • Although it might not bother me in the least,
    fear of heights is a very real thing for some people.

This fear was much to the amusement of the other person on the lift with her.
We took the tram and then the lift to the top of the mountain. One of the girls had a much harder time than the other one. I’m all like, “Just close your eyes and don’t look around.” I was informed that doesn’t work because your mind is still working.

  • You know Spring has arrived when little flowers appear in little hands.
    (and you can’t resist those eyes.)
  • TN has some wicked pollen and northern people get attacked quite viciously.
  • I should probably not move to an area with a high tourist count. I would have to forever and always be repenting for swearing in traffic.

  • You take yourself (and your brain) along on vacation.

There is nothing like leaving it all behind, forgetting and not thinking about stuff. I sat in the big rocking chair on the back porch of the cabin with a coffee cup and contemplated life for a long time. The good, the bad and the ugly that has come my way.

Life keeps moving, changing, the words of my story keep flowing, page after page. There are pages written that bring laughter, when I can smile and say, “God is good!”

But when the paragraphs of fiery trials are written, what is my response? Do I want to rip that page out of my story and scream “No! Why?” Do I constantly want to grab the pen and reword it to suit me?

I can ask “Why?” all day long, but generally, there is no answer to that question. Instead, I often hear three quiet words from Him, “For My glory!” When the pages with trials are being written, am I looking for ways to bring glory to God in the midst of it or am I fighting, kicking and still asking why?

Am I allowing Him to write my story for His glory?
I cannot change what happened, but I can control my response.
It’s ugly, I don’t like this part of the story, but am I willing to say,
“Use me, for your glory!”

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Winter Days

News from around the farm…
Well, not really because we have no animals other than our fat cat named Jack, who is always free to a good home since he’s not technically ours but rather the neighbor’s, but I would give him away anyway!  Now wasn’t that a great run on sentence to start out with?! As far as news, I don’t know… January was fairly relaxed and rolled into the next month that has the weirdest spelling. This month has been crazy. All kinds of things happening at the same time. Too many things.

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Monday was butchering day… does that interest any of you? 🙂
I know some people just perish at the thought of butchering, but it really doesn’t bother me. It was something we did every winter when I was a kid so it has good memories.

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Food wise around the farm….

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Madison continues to bake.
Not everything turns out perfect and this was one of those times. 🙂
The macaroons were not growing feet! ??
Don’t ask me.

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This stuff.
Oh, my word. Make it. Eat it.

It’s called Honey Dutch Blend. It’s not my recipe, it comes from my friend Anna and I think it came her way from someone in our big Miller family, never the less, make and eat. If you are a health nut, just skip over this recipe and keep reading. If you appreciate all things sticky, ooey, gooey and good, just turn a blind eye to the ingredients and enjoy it. 🙂

Honey Dutch Blend

1 box Honey Combs – 1 box Rice Chex -1 box Corn Chex – 1 bag of Pretzels
Mix together in a large bowl.

1 c. Honey
1 c. Karo
2 1/4 c. Brown Sugar
4 sticks of Butter
Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes
Add 1/2 tsp baking soda
Stir and quickly pour over cereal mixture.
Spread on wax paper until dry.

It makes a huge batch and it can be cut in half if you wish.

We also made Mocha Brownie dessert the other night.

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This has got to stop, though!
When there is all this good food in the house I have no self-control. none.
Thankfully, we took this to a family gathering and only had half of it left to tempt me. With a crew like mine, that was only enough for one round of dessert.

~~~~~

Do your kids like to listen to stories?
Go HERE and listen to the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.
Reagan loves them! I think she was born in the wrong era.

~~~

School Days for the kids…
Our teachers do a great job keeping the winter months exciting. Every week there is one or two days with something happening.

They had “clash day” in January but those pictures make me shudder!
One day was “Missionary Day.” The top activity for that day was when the kids smuggled Bibles into the school and hid them. The teachers spent quite a lot of time searching and declared that next year they will bring in reinforcements because the kids are getting better at it every year.
There is cozy-day, popcorn day, exchanging lunches, snack day and more. One day every family is supposed to bring a gallon of milk… hot chocolate day?

Last week we celebrated 100 days of school. They were supposed to dress like a 100-year-old person. I wasn’t home that morning but they needed very little help! One of them especially loved this day.
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I told Dakota to just wear sweatpants because if I were a 100-year-old, I would sit in my chair all day like that. 🙂
Reagan happily dug through a box of old lady dress up clothes I had for other occasions.
Madison didn’t know what to wear so I told her I would stop at Goodwill. I did, and there it was in all its glory for only $4. I took it up to check out and the two little old ladies working the register picked it up and started exclaiming. I opened my mouth to tell them why I was buying it when one says, “This is just beee-u-tiful!” I quickly closed my mouth without speaking and left grinning.

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Yesterday we spend 3 hours on the tubing slopes with the honor roll kids. It was a lovely, bright and sunny day and the kids quickly warmed up! To say they were hungry for lunch after 3 hours of this was an understatement.

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The princess and I have been busy.
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Her room was always just leftover colors from Dakota and she dreamed of having a pink room. Well, her mother is not a lover of all things pink, but oh well, it shouldn’t be too hard to repaint when she is done with pink.

I did my usual painting thing. Started the day by planning to clean the room. Oh well, may as well paint a coat of pink, ah shoot, while it’s drying we’ll do a little gray. Hey, the pink is dry, let’s give it another coat, and by now I would hate to mess up another day, let’s just finish it all! And so by 4:30 we were done. She says, “I didn’t think we were going to do it all today!” Well, neither did I.

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She was happy, happy, happy that night!

~~~

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When you have a birthday and can almost not get to your gift because everyone else wants to see it too.

The princess has a birthday coming up too. She is all concerned about me going to town alone sometime or else she won’t have a gift for her birthday!
Unknown to her it’s already in hiding.

~~~

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Psalms 91:1-2
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty… He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I am trusting in Him.

What do we need in a storm?
shelter. rest. refuge. safety.
Where do we find that?
In Jesus.

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Kicking January Blues …

… along with other nonsense.

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The month of snow, when there is very little of the white fluff.
I am quite okay with that, though.

We are currently staying home a lot and I am happy with that. That is the one thing I love about winter time. There is a constant stream of projects and jobs to be done around here, most of which I seem to never even start.

But January is whipping my tail and I’m not sure what to do about it. Usually, the sunless days and endless clouds don’t bother me, but this year it is. At the risk of offending a winter lover, I will say that I am thankful for the bits of warmer weather we have been having. The cold and I do not get on well.

Maybe the answer to my problem would be to start listening like my Dad does. At 60 some odd years of age, he is a guru of the mp3 world. He has an iPod and ear buds that are ever present. At first glance, one might think he is a teenager that needs his constant music, but no, he listens to messages from God’s Word. I do the downloading for him and one of us loads the player and he is set for a few weeks. It doesn’t take him long to consume an inordinate amount of sermons.

This just might be the answer to my winter blues … start listening. Eric would probably tell me to start with, “Likewise ye wives, be in subjection” that is downloading as we speak.

On the listening note, if you are a Mom of littles, how do you do it? There is constant noise and needs around here. I’m pretty sure I could never concentrate on what was being said, or wear ear buds for that matter! Because, horrors, what if Mom couldn’t hear the many, many questions being asked of her?

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In other news, we have recently introduced ourselves to a new food item, not that it’s new to anyone else, we had just never made it before. Crepes, we have come to find, are quite delicious.

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Not a new food item, but one that this boy loves.
Madison loves to bake but she sure wishes that her Dad and brother liked to eat something besides plain old, boring, chocolate chip cookies.

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Anyone else out there with a first grader in the house? His teacher is keeping track of how many books they read. Oh, the stress of sounding out all those words just to get one more book on his list.

My big question of the day is this:
Why does listening to a first grader read make you so sleepy and in need of a nap?

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Others in our house have no such problem with sounding out the words and will willingly read all the time. Day or night, whether there are jobs to do or not, in the bathroom, in the kitchen, or hiding in a closet, ever present is their book. If the youngest two take after the oldest two, in a few years we shall have a quiet and peaceful house. (but only after a trip to the library)

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Mom made this for me when I was her size.
It may or may not have taken a hefty bribe to get her to put it on and take a picture.

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If she isn’t plastered to my side, I might want to check around for her.
This day she bathed her cloth baby doll. A little time spent hanging by the wood stove solved the problem.

~~~~~

 dr-john-douglas-adam

This!
“Christ was the home of his thoughts.
Whenever his mind was free from other matters
it would turn to Christ.”

~~~

simply-encourage

Use your words. They are powerful.
Most often you have no idea how much your words are worth to someone.
To know that you care, that you are thinking about them, to know that you took the time to say something or write a note, even the smallest gesture holds worth.

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Use your words!
(even if you are just encouraging a cousin
who has been in the bathroom a really long time)

Be powerful with your words today and that might help kick your winter blues!

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Christmas ’16

Christmas this year bounces around in my brain as having hit every emotion in the playbook. There are sometimes in life that words cannot accurately describe and this is one of them.  So, it shall stay like that for you and continue bouncing around in my brain until I get it figured out.

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The grandkid status at Mom’s hangs heavy in the 3-7 year range and they are often B-O-R-E-D! We talked Madison into playing a game with a few of them.

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Mr. Jaxon was happy to eat instead of play!

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He is at a fun age right now and Dakota got a kick out of playing with him.

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These two goobers, they found my grandma’s old glasses and tried them on.

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Waiting. Maybe patiently, maybe not.

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A new Jeep shirt! We’re all about Jeeps around here.

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We had Katelyn’s name and about the time we started searching for the perfect gift, Sarita told me she had Reagan’s name and she had just bought her a vest. So with Reagan’s help, we “came across” this vest that was almost too wonderful to behold.  We bought it for Katelyn and when it came in the mail, she was just beside herself in love. We were all grinning when we watched her open her own gift to find a matching vest.

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Sometimes people open their mouths and say a lot of things and then get mysterious packages with no name attached. 🙂

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Tristan’s favorite song was “The Old Rugged Cross” and this song came true for him when he exchanged the cross for a crown.

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There were two oddly wrapped boxes with Sarita’s and my names on them. One was heavy and one was light. We had our guessing game going and found out that almost everyone (but us) knew what was in these boxes. In a weak moment, due to some well-asked questions, Nick opened his mouth to tell me but Max shut him off just in time. 🙂

Tys went above and beyond and made both of us something special. A camera for me and a little tricycle for Sarita! He is a welder by trade and it carries over into his hobbies. He turns out some pretty cool things from his imagination.

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The wheels roll, pedals turn and it’s just as cute as can be.

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The lens turns for a little manual focus and the front has a jeep grill and a cross in memory of Tris.

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The chain around the edge comes from a dirt bike and he listed all the other parts and where they came from, but I can’t remember. The flash on top pops up also.

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I don’t know what it’s called, but the round thing inside on the right rolls with a little push. I guess it’s a modern/antique and you use that to wind up your film roll.

Stop in sometime and I’ll let you touch it. 🙂

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I had Tyson’s name and wanted to buy him something in memory of Tris. Anyone who knew Tris knew that Jeeps were his hobby. He often roared around in an old red Willy Jeep, usually loaded with kids. I looked for a little jeep like this everywhere on the www. Everything was either over my price range or not very nice. I was almost ready to give up when this one popped up on eBay at just the right time and price. It felt like God had gifted me with this and in the end, it meant more to me than if I had found it as soon as I started looking.

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Later we all took a splat to the face with a little pie face game.
Well, maybe not quite all of us. 🙂

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We inhaled much good food, had lots of good conversations and all the while dealt with kiddos that kept passing the stomach flu around.
We talked about Tris, retold his favorite stories and missed him so very much!

~~~

My thoughts for 2017 …
“With God’s daily supply of grace, I am able.”

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