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.

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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.

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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.

~~~~~

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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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Of Thanksgiving and more…

 

When you were a kid, going to Grandma’s house was a highlight. I remember many trips to Ohio to see Grandma Yoder and we always had the best weekends in there. We also loved going to Grandpa Stoll’s house with Dad any chance we could get. There was always a piece of candy waiting for you from the corner cabinet before you would leave.

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Now my kids love to go to Grandpa and Grandma’s too. The last year we have spent more time out in IN than normal and so far I haven’t heard any of the kids complaining. Grandpa just added a cherry to the top of the weekends when he bought a little cabin for the grandkids. I declare the last weekend we were there was the absolute quietest Saturday we have had out there in years. We actually had to go get the kids for meals, otherwise, they were cabin dwellers all day.

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I thought Reagan might just move in permanently. There were so many things to do, see, and so much to explore. She is wishing and hoping it will be warm enough to play at the cabin when we go out the next time.

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Grandma and Grandpa stopped in for a chat. Anyone who went for a visit came back smelling like a smokestack. The kids had the fire going all day and I thought they might cook some food for themselves, but they didn’t catch anything to grill. They did inquire about snacks and some hot chocolate a time or two between meals. Delivery service was requested.

As with everything new we do, it brings an ache. Tris isn’t here to see the changes, to enjoy watching the kids grow, to make dumb jokes about the oddest things. He would have been moving and shaking things to get this cabin into place, full of big ideas and plans for what all we could do back there. Sometimes we still look up and expect his jeep to come rolling in the lane.

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Mini Mouse wasn’t in the smiling mood. She so badly wanted to stay at the cabin but it was just a little too chilly for her little size.

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My brain feels like it is suffering from an overdose of too much food and sugary goodness over Thanksgiving. Not that I have ever given up all things sugary like some {strong} people, no I just keep tormenting myself and sneaking little bites thinking they won’t add up as quickly as one large plateful. I have no idea where I am going with this, as I said, my brain… it is rather muchly on overload right now.

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Madison doesn’t help the problem by making things like this. I wasn’t tempted with more than a taste or two since I am not a true lover of chocolate.

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Speaking of Thanksgiving…

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Some of Eric’s extended family was around here for a few days.
They are the game players, I am the roaming one that watches all the games, but plays none. I feel a rash coming on at the thought of being pinned to a seat playing a game for an hour or three. Say the word game and my legs start twitching and I have to get up and move around. I’m glad not everyone is like me and they enjoy a good game!

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Bethany did crafts with the kids. It was most lovely of her to spend her time doing this, although I’m pretty sure she made all my kids an extra big project with an extra lot of extra glitter.

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And more game playing, see what I said!

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This game was called, “See how many guys can fit in the same spot!” 🙂
Not really. It is just that the closer you sit, the better you can hear the other conversations around you.

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This used to be the wild and wooly little gang doing donuts around the room. When did they get this big that they sit quietly and play games?

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“Let’s reconstruct the tower of Babel!” they said.
“Everyone else holds really still!” they said.

And like the tower, all good things must come to an end
and Thanksgiving vacation was over entirely too soon.

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From my Instagram:

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The Amish schoolhouse that I sneakily take pictures of when I see the kids out. One day I was not so stealthy and the little girls held their hands over their faces. It embarrassed my kids which made it totally worth it.

~~~

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Y’all have yourselves a very merry weekend!

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A Tribute to Grandpa Miller

On October 5, Eric’s grandpa passed away due to failing health.
Today is the first anniversary Grandma will spend alone in 61 years.

In the days before his funeral, I asked his children and grandchildren for their memories and compiled them into a tribute to him.  

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A Tribute to the Father of the Millers

A Husband, a Father, a Grandpa, Great-Grandpa, a Brother, and Uncle was he.
He answered to Emanuel, Manuel, Dad, Dawdy, Candy Dawdy,
Grandpa, Candy Grandpa, Great-Grandpa and Crist Joe Ale‘s Manuel.

A farmer by trade for years of his life, corn, hay, his fields and the price of beans.
Dairy and milking, silage and cows, his boys kept him company while he worked.
A daughter or two, by his side in the barn, laughing and singing with the cows.
With a son on the tractor, another in the barn, one working the hay,
and a few out back in the woods, he managed and called and directed them all.
Out through the window, his wife called his name and he gathered the boys for a meal.
Around the old kitchen table, they clambered and fought for good food,
stories of the day, laughter, and chatter all part of the meal.
After they had eaten he would pick up his Bible, in a voice filled with care,
he read from the Word, directing the hearts of his young.
A good game of softball in the soft evening light,
out by the flower garden spot, completed the day.

His children grew up and blessed him with grandchildren aplenty running ‘round.
They came down to the farm for visits, some food, and a story while he sat in his chair.
He would pull out pink candy from a pocket or two, and sneak it to little hands waiting.
Always the same kind, soon the candy was renamed after him,
affectionately known as “Dawdy Candy” which in turn named him, Candy-Dawdy.
On auction day, he would pick up excited grandchildren and take them along to the Mt. Hope sale barn. There was always time for a stop for lunch
at Mrs. Yoder’s or Boyd & Wurthmann in hopes of meeting a friend or relative.
He set the grandchildren to work, driving through fields and picking up rocks,
plenty of help for his hands. When milking time came, they followed along,
sipping milk from the bulk tank and shoveling feed for the cows.
The highlight of his week was a trip to the ball field on Monday nights.
He loved to watch his sons and grandsons swing for the fence.
When the grandchildren grew up, he enjoyed their visits anew.
Reminiscing of old was a favorite of his, those stories that he told and retold.

The day finally came that the cows had to go, other odd jobs took their place.
He would climb in his car and putter on down to host at Miller’s Essenplatz.
He visited with and seated all the people, while he chuckled and nodded replies.
When they smiled and waved on their way out the door, he would turn and reply
in his signature Dutch-accented call, “Thank-You-ah!
After everyone was gone and things quieted down, off to the back he would sneak
for his late night bowl of ice-cream, much to his wife’s dismay.

As life slowed him down, the cold Ohio winters drove him down to sunny Pinecraft.
It was months of vacation, lots of friends, a chat and a meal,
a run to the park in hopes of a friendly face to visit with.
Genealogy was his love and he knew people from far and wide,
he also knew exactly how everyone was related and to whom.
If he happened to come across a new face or two, get ready for the questions to fly.
“Now who did you say was your Dad? And your Mom’s maiden name was what?”
Before any time passed, he had them figured out and most likely they were related
to him, or at least to someone he knew.
Grandma would make donuts and coffee on cool southern mornings
and all the people would come. He chatted and reminisced, told old stories anew,
but all the while kept an eye on those donuts
and knew exactly how many were consumed and by whom.
Out for a meal in the evening with family, was something he loved to do.
His Florida favorite was Mi Tierra with fish on his platter, eyes staring back at him.
Spring would roll around and soon the North beckoned,
family and friends and his farm ground awaited him there.

Camping in the fall was a love of his with his family gathered ‘round.
He loved to sit and watch all the action, and then sternly call some command.
A crowd was usually gathered around his boys,
listening to them rehearse the old stories while everyone laughed.
He would smile and chuckle and try to add his own thoughts.
When the telling got tall with the stories of his, when all the things he had said
grew larger and funnier with time, he would silently laugh and say, “Help mich, Clarie!”
Little help she was while she giggled and shook, loving every memory she heard.
When late night fires blazed hot, guitars would start strumming
and the people would gather around singing songs of old he so loved.
In a voice all quivering with tears, he would hold up his hand and try to speak
the things that were deep in his heart.

As time moved on, age took its toll, his back stooped, bent by years of labor.
His hands were worn by the toil of the land, his eyesight slowly fading,
and his feet in a shuffle as he walked, life was coming to a close.
Yet, he had a heart full of love and a smile on his face for his wife, family, and friends.
Though his mind not as sharp the last years, that first love he had, still remained.
Holding his well-worn Bible near, with a tear-filled voice he stood often in church,
thanking his Jesus for all He had done.

While we miss him here, we rejoice with joy that He walks on streets of pure gold.
He is singing his songs and praising His Savior, perfectly healed today.
He leaves behind a legacy, a heritage, not soon forgotten, rich in love, family, and Jesus.

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This was last year at their anniversary celebration,
a few more have been added since.

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When Family Visits

Once upon a weekend, my family came to visit.
We don’t live that far apart, so we travel West quite a bit, but to have them travel East is newsworthy! Almost everyone came, a few stayed home for various reasons and we missed them.

Of course we missed Tris, we wished for his loud, in charge voice to keep things rolling. We missed him in our late night laughs and hearing him loudly sip early morning coffee. We wondered what he would have done when all the other guys were on the roof because he hated heights. We missed him crashing onto the recliner with a thump. We knew he would have loved our weekend and we pretty much just missed him all the time.

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On Friday we all loaded into an RV and headed North. My Mom’s family lives in Holmes Co and we have spent our entire life visiting there. Our one in-law in particular had never really played “tourist” around there, so we gave the grand tour. It was fun, all packed in together, keeping the kids in line, stopping to see things and people.

By way of the rumor mill, we heard that Wal-mart sells cool Ozark Trail tumblers that are (almost) as good as Yeti. “Hey, we’ll go past Wal-mart, let’s stop and check.”
The guys and I made a mad dash in to see who could find them first and they proceeded to buy half the stock! We then spent the rest of the day complaining that our water was gone and the ice wasn’t melting and we had nothing to drink! Isn’t this what we wanted?

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We met some family for lunch and had a short little catch up session. We needed much more time than we had, but it was good to see them for a bit.

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My Aunt Irene wasn’t able to come to our lunch gathering, so we stopped to see her. It’s a rare occurrence for all of our gang to be together at her house, so rare that I thought it was photo worthy!

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Another stop here and there, to see this and that,
and then a visit with Ruby and her girls finished off our day.
whispers: We were feeling a little bit Amish
with the way we kept stopping to see all our relatives.
🙂

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When we are at Mom’s, this guy drives the dirt bike in the front door and out the back. When he is here, he just revs it up and drives right up the steps onto my front porch. I should have made him scrub the black marks off the concrete.

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Grandma spoils her babies!
They say, “Can we watch something?” and before their mom can open her mouth, Grandma says, “Sure, just use my phone!”
They may have been taking a selfie too, her grandkids taught her how to do that.

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These two! They have a love-hate relationship. He teases her, she pretends to hate it, but I think she really loves it. Before they came, we would ask her who was coming and the first person on the list was, “Max’s Dad.”

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Cousins and friends. They can spend hours together coming up with all kinds of things to do and daydream about. If they run out of things to do, they can always read!
We all love to see Katelyn wear her Daddy’s hat!

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Saturday the guys spent most of the day working on the garage.
The ladies… we did what all ladies do. kid care. food prep, fixing and eating. more kid care. talking. coffee drinking. more food and kids and lots of crowd control and clean up!

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A porch pow-wow with the kidders.

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This chunky monkey! He is only 5 months old and growing like crazy!
Other people’s kids always grow faster than mine do!

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We set up the teepee and the gang moved down there. Reagan organized them all and pretty soon she had her camp up and running.

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 Since it was warm and the guys deserved a break, we headed for the beach late afternoon. We had a hard time getting the kiddos out of the water when it was time to leave. Sun, sand and water, add kids and you have a good combo!

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This goober. He buried himself. ugh. I feel all gritty and dirty just thinking about it.
Later that night he wondered why there was sand in his ears?!

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This was the best! He needed help covering his arms so we were scooping sand all over him. He had his eye closed, so he never saw this coming, but here comes Nick with his little offering of sand to finish covering up his Dad!

A good time was had by all. (I think)
If you get to spend time with your family,
let them know how much you appreciate and love them!

“Being a family means you are a part of something very wonderful. It means you will love and be loved for the rest of your life.” » Lisa Weedn

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Kids + Teepee

Everyone should have an Aunt Bethany.

Way back when, sometime before Christmas, Aunt Bethany asked Reagan, “So what would you like for Christmas?” Now anyone should know that is a dangerous question to ask a child. The wish list is usually long and daunting. Reagan didn’t need much time to think before she had an answer ready. I’m not sure how she worded it but I heard something to this effect, “i would really like a teepee but I know they cost too much!”

This must have started the wheels turning in Bethany’s mind because pretty soon word of teepee building started circulating among the moms in the family. The kids didn’t know anything was happening, except for the fact that no one was allowed to stop at Grandma’s the last few weeks before our Christmas.

Teepee Christmas

To say the least, Aunt Bethany was suddenly the favorite.

Ours took up residence in the basement. Reagan used it the most of course, imagination running wild while she played. Once it warmed up, I told them it needed to go outside.

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It only took the idea of having the teepee outside to get “Wild Child’s” brain working overtime. She soon had a ‘fire’ started and they were cooking up a meal. She left Little One to tend to things while she was out in the woods gathering roots and flowers.

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Chief Dakota was too lazy go hunt for their meat, he relaxed in the teepee playing with modern toys instead of smoking his pipe.

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Tasting her food before she serves her people,
no sense in poisoning the whole tribe.

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He’s adding ‘fire’ to the wood.

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As you can see around her mouth, she really did taste some of her soup.

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Little One does her share of the work.

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A visitor, “Reads a Lot,” introduced the tribe to modern technology.
A tribal council was convened to decide whether this is acceptable.

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She also introduced them to a newfangled horse,
one that is loud and runs on wheels instead of legs.
The Council is unsure whether she is a good influence or not.

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As you can see, this modern stuff confused Wild One and she was left wondering why her feather quill does not work on this fancy bark that lights up.

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She decided the best of life is out in nature
and modern technology is better left in the house.

As I said before, everyone should have an Aunt Bethany!