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.

 

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Of Much To-do About Cleaning

And lo, there came a day in the year of here and now that the mother of the mother of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan sent a message unto this household saying,
“Prepare, for we are about to begin on a journey to see thee and thy kinfolk and our children’s children. Do not kill the fatted calf or dust the webs and sweep dungeons for though the voyage be long, our stay will be but for a short while. Our caravan of camels, servants, and kinsmen will be arriving on this given day and will rest and enjoy a short stay within your house.”

But when the message was delivered, the mother of the children of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan heeded only to the first sentence of the missive, the part about the coming of the tribe of Owen, son of Enos where upon she commenced into a frenzied state of affair.

With much weeping and wailing, she did cry unto herself and her children,
“Why ever was I so slothful in the affairs of cleaning corners? Make haste at once children and bring me the brooms and rags of all shapes and sizes, and many of them, for we will need them all. Run son, with all thy might, to the barns and sweep the floors, daughters, scurry and grab the mop and attack the corners at once!” And so it was that the war on dirt and dust bunnies did commence with furry and vengeance because the kinsmen were coming.

Small eight-legged creatures building webs trembled in terror and the dust bunnies did make much ado and billow about. Her children while working, did moan and wailed and cried, “Mother, please do not torture us so with all this cleaning and bustling about. Do you not suppose our relatives have dirt and webs of their own and are accustomed to such things?” But the Mother harkened not unto their cries and relentlessly tore into her household with haste, for her kinsmen were coming.

And so it was from dawn until dusk they did labor, busily scurrying about, preparing for the guests to arrive. Much to the joy of the mother of the tribe, her daughters were home for an extra day from their place of learning, and so the much more did she torture them with work to do.

And picking up her cellar device she did place a call unto her husband and said unto him, “My kinsmen are coming, buy and kill the fatted calf with which we might feed them well for they are special and worthy of honor.

So he harkened unto her voice at once and bought and prepared the meat with spices and seasonings of his kind. And while it was yet dark, before the dawn broke the sky, he arose and did place the meat upon the grill in preparation for the feast.

When finally the day arrived for which they had all been preparing, the mother of the tribe scurried about with more preparations. But the son and daughters of the tribe of Eric, son of Dan, happily escaped hither to their place of learning with much joy and happiness at the thought of escaping their frenzied mother.

Hours past with much haste and when all was prepared and the time of their arrival was at hand, the mother did flop her body onto a chair and sigh, imagining that all had been accomplished and all was well. But as she surveyed her work, she saw that much to-do had been in vain, for it seemed as soon as one room had been mopped and fluffed, the eight-legged creatures and bunnies of dust did promptly make their way in and set up residence, happy to reside in a room that smelled fresh and new, just for them.

And upon seeing the weary faces of her children and examining and finding grouchiness in herself, she purposed in her heart that the next time kinfolk were coming, they would surely do just fine in a house where dust bunnies and eight-legged creatures do reside. After all, it seemed the bustling about with much to-do had accomplished next to nothing because the creatures had not moved out at all, but were merely rearranged.

And so it was with much joy and rejoicing they welcome the caravan of family upon their late arrival and a wonderful weekend was had by all, bunnies, webs and all.

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Two Years

Two years ago the shrill ringing of the phone
broke the silence of a peaceful night.
Quiet words were spoken and heart-wrenching sobs
came welling up from deep within.

Two years.
What are two years in a lifespan?
A minor drop in the bucket.
What are two years grieving a death?
The feeling of a lifetime.

T 3-07

Tris, we miss you still, we always will.
So much remains the same,
so much about us has changed.

We still congregate at Mom’s
because we love to be together.
We still sit around the table and talk,
catching up on each other’s lives.
We still sit around the fire outside,
but now we watch the sky, the moon,
knowing you are somewhere out beyond.

T 5-14

We still speak your name,
in a good memory, a loud story
or something we know you would love.
We laugh more, cry less,
but miss you just the same.
The ache in our hearts is still there
because you are still missing.

T 4-12

The children are growing, changing,
getting taller without permission.
They miss the kickball games, roasting marshmallows,
playing in the shop, and long bumpy jeep rides with you.
Tyson has a little girl now.
I know how excited you would have been for him
and all the advice and comments you would have had.
Your two girls are growing up, tall and sweet,
becoming beautiful little ladies.
And your son, He is so much like you in so many ways.
I know you would have laughed
and loved to see him in action like we do.

T 7-14

In the middle of missing you,
we are so grateful and thankful.
It was our privilege to have you
as part of our lives, our family.
We are so thankful to be the ones
who knew you best, the real you.
We smile when we remember your laugh
and are thankful for all our conversations.
Our lives would be so much less
if we had not had almost 33 years with you,
and for all those years, we are grateful.

T 6-15

Time keeps moving along,
often with us dragging our feet.
Some days it feels like we never move,
others we look back to the beginning
and see the far distance we have come.
We would not be where we are today
if it were not for Jesus.
He gives us grace to face each day,
courage to rise on the next,
and strength to put another foot forward
to keep walking this journey.

T 11-12

Two years ago our hearts were broken,
never to be the same again.
As we knelt at the side of that upturned dirt
we whispered, “Good-bye for now,
we’ll be there soon!”

Tris, we miss you still, we always will.

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.

Yoder Reunion (1)

Yoder Reunion (2)

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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Yoder Reunion (4)

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.

Yoder Reunion (5)

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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Yoder Reunion (11)

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

Yoder Reunion (12)
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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Yoder Reunion (16)

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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Version 3

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.

Yoder Reunion (18)

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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.

June 17 (1)

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.

June 17 (2)

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

June 17 (3)

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.

June 17 (9)

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?

June 17 (7)

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.

June 17 (12)

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.

June 17 (10)

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.

~~~

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.

~~~~
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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