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.


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.


Mr. Jaxon was happy to eat instead of play!


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


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



Waiting. Maybe patiently, maybe not.


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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. 🙂


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.


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


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Speaking of Thanksgiving…


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!


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.


And more game playing, see what I said!


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.


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?


“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.


From my Instagram:


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.



Y’all have yourselves a very merry weekend!





Life ‘Round Here

Some days thoughts and questions swirl endlessly through my head, so many I don’t know how to start putting them into words. Many of them get scribbled, scratched and tucked away for another time and place. Not many of them make sense, at least not enough sense to be spread across the world wide web.

So instead of scaring you forever by giving you too much to read, here’s bits and pieces of our life lately.


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And then there was this one time that they got along so well they read a book together.

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These two.
The big one doth mucho mucho spoil the little one.
I think it’s all to hear the little one say,
“Madison is my faborite!”

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Somehow when I wasn’t looking, Mr D grew up and was old enough to go to school. I declare he was just born the other day. We thought we weren’t ready for him to go, but my oh me, these days of peacefulness sure are a beautiful thing. In his very own words, “I bet there will be not as much screaming around here when I am in school!”
To be sure, he is correct.


We went to FL for Spring Break the first of March
and it was just what the Dr ordered.
Days of swimming, sand castles, and eating.

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This sky spoke to me.
It is the closest thing I’ve seen to the light of heaven.

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On an evening when photos were suppose to be perfection,
this Mother had a healthy dose of reality dumped on her once again.
She then remembered other years and the outcome of
photo-shoots with these very same children.
Why did she get her hopes so high?
Will she never learn her lesson?
Tune in this fall when she tries it again.

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I sat on this pier mornings and wrestled questions, thoughts and tears into subjection.
Or I tried. I’m not sure any progress was made. Coming to grips with certain things takes a long, long time and a lot of question asking of God.

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One morning the waves were madly beating all around me
and it felt very much like life at the moment.
As I sat on the pier, it didn’t budge an inch,
and I was reminded that I must rest in the only One
who is firmly anchored in the storms of life.
Nothing will shake Him, nothing will move Him,
He is in this with me for the long haul.


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We were in Indiana a few days.
Grandpa landscaped one day with a lot of help.
Or rather he tried, but it turns out some help is overrated.

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Jaxon is getting b i g so fast.
He has the sweetest of smiles (when he feels like it).

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I played hide and seek with Libby and her blanket.

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It was just good to spend time with these people again.
These are the ones who just ‘know’ without words, what you are feeling.

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Sunday Mom made deviled eggs for lunch. The rule of the day was anyone who ate an egg had to put the whole thing in their mouth and eat it in one bite. This was in honor of Tris’ method of eating deviled eggs, one gulp and it was gone. For some it was no problem ^^ while others struggled a bit, but they sure were good.


One morning Dad called Mom and said to go out and look at the sky.
There it was, the Easter message so big and bright,
hanging right over us, just for us.


When we are in the middle of the storm, fighting fear and despair, it is then God gently reminds us, “Yesterday I died for you, today I live for you. Hold on to me, I will be here for you, because I love you.”

Jaxon Mark

Sometimes the smallest things
take up the most room in your heart.
-Winnie the Pooh.

A small, but mighty bit of a boy has been added to our family.
A new son for my sister means a new nephew for me.
It’s so much fun to snuggle, cuddle and love on him.
There is just nothing like that little newborn stage
where you can wrap them up tight, tuck them under your chin
and feel that soft fuzzy head with the new baby smell.

He brought many smiles and tears
since he was named after his uncle we all miss so much.
How do you celebrate while crying? We managed to do a lot of both.

Meet Jaxon Mark

He came all on his own good time
and weighed a whopping 8lbs and 13oz on arrival.

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We spent a weekend in IN holding baby,
cooking, cleaning, changing diapers and loving some family time.

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The weather was beautiful so the kids played outside!
I missed the party at Grandma’s Saturday
but they said the kites were flying and the creek was splashing.

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We’re still happy to have men in the kitchen!
We’re gonna make the most of them and their love of grilling.

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The quickest way to wake a sleeping baby
is to gently rest your head on a pillow.
-Author unknown

This quote holds water with this little guy.
I got my exercise walking him around for a few days.

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It’s been awhile since the last baby in the family
so everyone wants to hold him, until he cries
then they are happy to pass him on.

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If only he knew how worried he should be.
This cousin will teach him many things!

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This little cousin had a birthday so we had a little party for her.
She had much help opening gifts.

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Sunday we were all packed up and ready to head home
and the Excursion broke down.
Not a good thing, but it had a few perks.
We were very close to Mom’s when it happened
and one more day with the baby and family was a good thing.

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He always thinks he’s hungry!
If he takes after the uncle he’s named after,
he’ll be a big boy some day.


One morning the sunrise was just beautiful.
I took a picture and wondered just what it must look like from the other side.
I have no doubt this beauty pales in comparison to what Tris is seeing.
What must his eyes behold?
I’m sure no beautiful sunrise or sunset even comes close!

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It seemed like Spring might bring new hope, new healing to our hearts, but lately I’m not sure. Instead it seems to be opening new wounds. Tris was a lover of Spring, warmer days, farmers in the fields, so much to do, so little time. He thrived on it all. This Spring it seems so empty, so lifeless through our tear filled eyes.

Grief is such a long arduous journey and we long for a reprieve, but find none. My mind keeps going back to the verse in Psalms 30. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” We are anxiously awaiting that morning.

Of Christmas Without You

Dear Tris,

I just want to see you come strolling through the door,
with Grant in your arms and you singing
“Silver Bells, silver bells, it‘s Christmas time in the city!”
I want to sit down and drink a cup of coffee with you.
I want to listen to you talk, to hear you laugh.
I would love to hear your latest joke
or bit of news you learned today.
I would just like to hear your voice again.

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I would want to sit in Mom’s living room
with you and the rest of the gang.
Have loud discussions, listen to everyone’s opinion
being voiced at the same time and laugh!
I wish you could carry the little kids around
and keep the peace with the big ones.
I want to sit across the table from you again,
to watch you laugh and have a good time.

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I would want to tell you about Christmas this year.
There was talking, there was laughter sometimes,
there was good food, and wild kid times,
but still nothing was the same this year.
80 days before, our lives were turned upside down
and we will never have a Christmas like the old ones again.
This Christmas there were tears,
the pain of missing you was just so great
that it overshadowed the joy.

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I would love to tell you about the lockets
I gave Katelyn and Aleigha.
I whispered “These are from your Daddy!”
and you should have seen them smile.
A picture of you on one side,
and one of them on the other.
They are so proud of them
and keep them tucked inside their dress,
close to their heart.
I see them reach and pull the locket out,
they open it and finger the picture.
They miss you so!

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I want to tell you about the grills the guys bought,
how they research everything
and figure out just what temperature
and how long everything needs to be on.
They don’t wing it like you would,
they like to know what’s happening.
You would have gotten a huge kick out
of the fact that the chickens weren’t done
for Sunday lunch because the electricity blinked
and turned their grill off.

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I would like to tell you about Tyson’s 30th birthday party,
the one you were already planning before you died.
He thought he could sneak out of having a party,
but of course you wouldn’t let him get away with that.
We surprised him very well!
You would have loved it!
There were so many people there,
so many people you would have liked to talk to,
so many people who came because they love him!
He was your favorite person next to your little family
and I know you would have loved to see him celebrated.

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After his party, we took a picture, just us lonely 3 siblings.
We smiled, but we missed you!
You always had your ways and we couldn’t believe our eyes
when later we saw you had sneaked into the picture with us.
It made us smile again.

I would want to tell you that the new road is done!
I would want to tell you how we drove it,
how we cried, how we missed you.
We talked about you while we drove,
there were so many things you
would have wanted to see along the way.

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I would want to tell you about
all the little things that happened this weekend,
things you would have loved to see.
The knives Tim gave the guys in memory of you,
the dirt bike in Mom’s kitchen,
and how Eric and Tim built a table for Sarita.
I would tell you about the little bikes Tys is making,
you would be so proud of him.
It was a warm Christmas,
you would have been happy about that.
I really want to tell you about all the things
people are doing for your little family,
how well they are being taken care of and loved.

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I want to tell you so many things
that I didn’t tell you before,
so many things I should have said.

I want to tell you what a wonderful dad you were
and how much your little family loved you.
I would want to tell you what a hero you were to them,
the one they trusted, looked up to
and couldn’t wait to see at the end of the day.
You worked so hard for them, took such good care of them
and were the anchor of all their lives.

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I would want to tell you how much we miss you,
how badly we hurt because you’re gone.
I don’t think you knew how much
you meant to us, how much we loved you.
We struggle without you,
but your Jesus walks with us.

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Some days we aren’t sure if there is much left of us because
the Tris shaped hole in our hearts keeps growing larger all the time.
We’ll keep fighting because when the sun sets each day,
it means we’re one day closer to seeing you again.
Love you lots and hope your Christmas was better then ours.

Of Thanksgiving

“How was your Thanksgiving?” you ask.

We did what everyone else did.
We gathered around the table,
we ate, we talked, we laughed sometimes.
But most of all, deep inside, we hurt.
We cried, we talked about Tris,
we remembered good times
and a few more tears fell.
The sadness of missing him
has settled deep.
His presence was so large, so full of life,
there is a lot about him to miss.
It is just unbelievable what a hole
one person can leave.

We put our best foot forward
since the Holidays give us no choice
but to face life head on.
It wasn’t easy,
sometimes it felt downright unbearable,
but we tried and with the trying,
there was grace, once again sustaining us.

Children crave normalcy
so for their sake, we had to try.

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All Eric had to do was continue reading
and he had a revolving audience of little people.

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Madison had a good time Thursday.
Now guess what they think they “need” around this place.

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Grandpa loaded all the littles up for a ride.
The oversize load behind him followed for back up.

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We spent a lot of time just talking, being together.
The best conversations happen around this island.

Tris is often in our conversations.
Looking through photo albums,
laughing at his jokes,
talking about his likes and dislikes,
the things he did and said.
(all of which were many)

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There was teasing, lots of it from this one.
They may fight with and yell at him,
but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Grandma snuggles make little girls feel better.

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We even went out to eat one time because tired minds
have a hard time thinking of something to cook all the time.

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Beside Grandpa’s fireplace is the best place to set up a game.
Their parents don’t play games but the kids seem to like it.

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Saturday mornings at Grandma’s call for pancakes.
Grandma usually makes big ones
but when the favorite aunt comes to visit,
she makes fun size pancakes.
How many silver dollar pancakes can you eat?

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Tris’ shop is a good place for little people
with lots of energy to hang out,
especially on rainy days.

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Anytime spent outside was under an umbrella.
She was happy with that!

Days that are dreary and rainy make
grief-walking even more difficult.
The cloudy winter days in our future look long
but one thing we have learned
is to take one day at a time.
Tomorrow doesn’t matter, only today.

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This little chair was just her thing!
She read one book after another
with her little feet all relaxed.

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Sunday the Master griller fixed a bird for us.
It was delicious.
We hereby proclaim that the women of this family
are done fixing the food.
Have at it guys.

Someone’s sense of humor is still intact
because we found a bag of turkey bones
under Eric’s seat on the way home.
They thought he might need a snack. 🙂


So the questions remains,
“How was the weekend?”
Good and bad.
Good to spend time with family again.
Hard to see what a hole is left in our family.
Good to see the small amount of progress we’ve made.
Sad to think of moving on without him.
To sum up and answer,
“We survived.”



The Tent House

When we were at Grandma’s house for a week,
we wanted something simple to entertain the kids, preferably outside.
Grandma suggested making a tent for them,
I had noticed one along the road just a few days before,
so combining our ideas, the tent house came to life.

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Mom has a 3 stranded wash line so they hung the sheets over the lines
and clothes pins worked great to hold it together.
They even used an extra sheet and added a porch.

We thought we were building it for all the kids,
but the two hippies kind of moved in and took over.
They hauled all kinds of paraphernalia from one house
or the other, and filled the tent!

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The other kids stopped in to take tour of the place.
One tent dweller willingly hopped off her chair to open the door,
the other happily stayed right where she was.

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Their vehicle was usually parked close by
so the walk was not a one strenuous when they left home.

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After awhile they announced, “It’s time for you kids to leave now!”

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“These guys are a little strange!” he thinks.
But they don’t mind being thought of as strange,
life is good.

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Whew, back to relaxing now that the visitors have all gone home.

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Eventually they ventured out to find some food.
This picture sums up their relationship quite well.
One does something strange, while the other watches with interest.

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Unknown to them, when the hippies are away, the mice will play.
While they were out getting food and playing some games,
two visitors sneaked in and took over the tent house.

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These two are the best of friends
and quite enjoy their time together
when we are at Grandma’s house.

Build your gang a tent house,
it creates hours of fun.