October, Teenagers, and more

Does life ever slow down? I keep thinking one of these days it will. So far, my hopes and dreams have been dashed every week. Does it keep getting worse as you get older? If so, I’m gonna need a seatbelt for this roller coaster in about 5 years.

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A reoccurring comment I’m hearing lately, “You need to post more often.” Really? I tend to think that my ramblings are of the boring variety and not worth typing out. My brain feels a bit rattled the last while.


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Do you have a church family? Do you like your church family? You should find and invest in one that you really like. It is worth it.
We are blessed to be part of a group of people who enjoy each other, get along well and love spending time together. We went church camping in September and I was reminded again of how much I like these people. There is always someone available to visit with, play a game, sit around the fire, have deep conversations, or a great hearty laugh. Age is usually not an issue. There are listening ears, hearts that care, and a genuine concern for each person. We are a family, not perfect people, only perfected in Jesus.


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October used to be one of my favorite months. It has been less of a favorite in the last few years, but it has also taught me simple lessons.

You will often find the bluest sky and the fluffiest white clouds in October. So often the sun will pass behind these clouds and be hidden for a time. When I see this I am often reminded that although the sun is hidden during a season of life, I know it is still shining.

The leaves start turning red and golden yellow. They are facing the worst point in their short lives, but yet these leaves shine with beauty, pointing people to their creator.

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I woke early on the morning of October 7, my mind going back three years and I allowed myself to remember. I soon crawled out of bed and took my coffee to the porch. Around seven, Dakota came out wrapped in a blanket and we talked about Tris. I was amazed at all the things he remembered. A lot of things he really does remember, but some he has “memories” of because he has heard the stories so often.

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Fill your children’s minds with memories!


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Last week we traipsed out into the woods and took a few photos of these two.
They crisscross between laughing friends and snapping enemies, essentially making them frenemies.

I tell them to forgive me, I really don’t know what I’m doing with them because I’ve never had teenagers before, much less two at a time.

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This one just turned 13.
Oh, you remember yesterday when she was in her terrible twos,
pulling all kinds of stunts and scaring me half the time.
Yeah, me too!


Shoot me your organization tips.
I need to go through every single room in the house and purge. I am not a hoarder, but neither am I minimalist and I think it would do me good to err on the side of less.


Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness.

Of Taking Photos

Do you take photos?
What kind of photos do you take?
Do you use a camera? Do you use a phone?
Do you make your kids pose and smile?
Do you take photos when they are playing and doing normal things?
Does your house need to be clean for a photo?
Do you move the junk in the background to make it look like Pinterest?

However, whatever way, please, just pick up your phone or camera and use it.
Take photos!

Make them smile and say cheese.
And then take some of your everyday life!
I can’t say it enough. Just take photos.

You think you have the memory of an elephant, but I guarantee you won’t always remember what your 4th child looked like jumping on the sofa pillows that were spread all over the living room floor. Or for that matter, how the 11-year-old sits when she reads.

I would like to tell you to pick up a camera and use it, but if you won’t, that’s fine. At least use your phone to take photos. After you do that, save them somewhere and then print them. Two days from now when your two-year-old gives the phone a bath, you’ll want the photos you took today.

Don’t make them look and smile every time. The inner me wants to do that. I want to fix and primp and say, “Smile nicely. Look at me. Behave. Look normal.” All the while what I am really doing is creating an unnatural look because what child stands still, smiles nicely and is cleaned up 100% of the time? None. And while you’re at it, let the mess in the background. No one has a house straight from a magazine.
(well most of us don’t anyway)

Take photos of the kid covered in chocolate pudding.
(and print them, like the one on my fridge)
Take photos when you stop for ice cream in the summer or go to the park.

Take photos of them wrestling on the floor after supper.
(I would post that one, but one of them probably wouldn’t approve) 🙂
Take photos when they fall asleep on your lap with their rattiest clothes on.
Take common, ordinary, everyday photos!

Now let’s talk about you, the primary photo snapper. Are there any photos of you? Hand your camera or phone to your husband or kids and tell them to take pictures. They will love it and who cares if you think you look fat, your hair aren’t combed or whatever. In 20 years, you’ll think you look great!

Be intentional about photographing and videoing your family. Eric’s aunt texted me one day and asked if we owned a video camera? No, we don’t, we used to but we just use our phones now. “Buy one!” she said. They had just watched their home videos from when her kids were young and she couldn’t believe all the things she had forgotten.

Someday you will be glad for every single photo you have taken of your people and wish for even more. I love every photo we have of Tristan. I wish we had more. The other day I came across some more that I didn’t know we had and they are a treasure. We don’t care how he looks, we are just so glad for a few more visual memories of him.

Take a photo of the after school mess, the projects, the crafts and the one million things they can drag out to create one little thing.

All that to say, pull out your phone or camera, take some pictures, hand it off to have some taken of you and smile!


The Telling of Memories

Do your children know stories of your childhood?

Do they know what you did on hot summer days when you were a kid?

Have they heard about your school days and your classmates?

Do they know how Grandma and Grandpa met?
How their Mom and Dad met?

Do they know your stories?

Since Tris passed away, this has become very real and important to me. He was a story teller and the stories he knew are gone with him. His children sit with me now and say, “Tell me a story about my Daddy!” They are thirsty for more about him, they drink in every story I can remember and always want another one. When my brain is dry, they say, “Tell me this one again!”

 My own children listening to these stories have found out more about my early years in the last nine months, then they have their entire life. Sometimes they are amazed, sometimes they laugh, sometimes they are horrified. 🙂

I have dug deeper in my memories then ever before and just when I think I have told the very last story I have, something triggers in my brain and I can tell a new one. They don’t all have to be exciting happenings, every day stories about how life was back in your day interest them too.

Tell your children your stories or they will never know them.


This would be a memory that was created for me, not one I remember on my own since I am the toy chewing little baldie in the photo. I do have lots of good memories of times at Grandpa’s with my cousins.

Grandkids barbies

Going to Grandma’s was a highlight in itself, but being able to go upstairs and dig out the Barbies just topped it off. Most of the clothes had been sewn by Sandy, so we had lots of options as you can see. Usually it was just the girls in the house playing with them, but on occasion, when the boys were bored, we got them to help too.


Grandma was a firm believer in a morning break. Around 10 o’clock she pulled out the Pepsi and usually had something to go with it. If you were lucky, she made homemade donuts. She would take the snack out to the guys in the shop and feed any grandkids hanging around.

Grandma Shannon Tristan

Grandpa and Grandma always had all kinds of feathered fowl running around the place. There were chickens out back in their little cages, others were in the old barn laying eggs. There were pigeons in the top of the barn, peacocks roosting in the trees and guineas pecking at the ground.

The peacocks were Grandpa’s pride and joy. If the family was down to the farm in the evening, we kids usually played on the front porch. When it was getting close to sunset, Gramps would open the window and yell at the kids to go play in the backyard so the peacocks can roost! The peacocks had chosen the tree in the front lawn to roost in and if we were running around there, they were scared to fly up and get settled for the night.

Leonard Shannon

From little on up, we were raised on 3-wheelers and dirt bikes. Before I was able to drive I went on rides with my uncles, but it didn’t take long for me to be begging to learn to drive by myself.

(I added a few pieces from stories I wrote for the kids.)

    Sometimes when our 3-wheeler didn’t run or something, we would have to ask Ern if we could take his for a drive. We were always scared to ask him.  One time we were at the cabin and Miriam and I needed to go to the house to get something. We bravely asked Ern and he let us drive his 3-wheeler. On the way back, we tried to go up a big hill and tipped the 3-wheeler on the side. I’m sure you can imagine how scared we were to have to tell him about that!

kids - dogs

Beside driving ATV’s, we always had pets around. I can’t remember a time that we were without some kind of pet. We had big dogs, little ones, puppies to play with and a multitude of cats. We had a racoon that we raised from a baby. Once he was grown he left, but he would come back occasionally to visit. I can’t remember his name, but our cousins had a coon called Dune Buggy that used to run around inside the house. Thanks to Mother, our coon had to live outside.

    After while, Mom quit raising plants in her greenhouse. I guess she thought she had enough work without that. Since the building was empty, Dad decided he should make use of it. He bought 3 fluffy Pomeranian dogs and they lived in the green house. These dogs all had baby puppies and my oh my, did we ever love them. We would always go to the greenhouse with Dad and help take care of the puppies. Sometimes we had to give them milk from a tiny little bottle. When they were old enough we would bring them up to the house and play with them on the porch. Of course, we let them come in the house too.  They would always sneak under the couch and hide all the way along the back so we couldn’t reach them. We had to move the couch and try to catch them or use a yard stick and dig them out. We always had dogs running around outside somewhere, just like Grandpa does now.

Grandkids & Wilbur

Our cousins also had a goat named Wilbur, of which we were very jealous.
Who wouldn’t want a goat for a pet? (besides our Mom!)

      We liked to be at Clyde’s when the milkman came to pick up the milk. He always had some kind of candy or gum for us in his truck. We would watch him hook up all his hoses and move the milk from the bulk tank to his truck. Sometimes he would let us flip the switches on his truck to get things started.

      We also liked to be at Clyde’s when the veterinary came. Dr. Beard was his name and he would stop in to check on a cow that was sick. One time he had to have surgery on a cow’s stomach and Miriam and I were watching. He had us hold the light for him while he did the surgery. We were sure we were the best help he ever had. I’m not sure if he agreed. 


Back in 2008, my aunt and I had a brainstorm. We needed a family book, a book full of old pictures, stories, things written down to preserve memories. I tackled the project of putting it together and she started calling people asking for stories and photos.

Stoll's - Owen

Each child of the original family had a page with a piece they had written. Each family had a page also with memories from the grandchildren. Other pages were photos and stories of pets, old places, corn days, the cabin, waiting on Dad, the cane mill, a tribute to the parents of this tribe, memories from their Aunts and many more stories. I scanned hundreds of old pictures and put page after page together. Since there are 13 children in this family, the book got bigger and bigger. We ended up with a 50 page book.

Stoll's - Memories

Stoll's - Pets

We inherited the pet thing honestly! Our dogs and cats were tame compared to the animals they drug in and kept.

Stoll's - O family

Today my kids like to get this book out and read through the stories of their great Aunts and Uncles. I know these stories now because they took the time to write them down and preserve the memories!

Shannon Sam

    When we were little, Grandpa and Grandma Stoll would come driving up in their truck. There would be fishing poles sticking out of the back and we knew what that meant. We would hop in the back and away we would go to the cabin. Grandma would get all the fishing stuff out and haul it down to the pond.

     Grandpa would start putting worms on all of our hooks and then toss his own line in the water. Grandma would arrange all of her stuff and settle down in a lawn chair or on a bucket close to the water. We baited and tossed lines all night and I don’t remember if we caught much or not, but Grandpa and Grandma always did.

Write down your memories.
Dig out old pictures.
Preserve history.
Take new pictures.
Make new memories.
Your children will thank you some day!





Happy Birthday Tris

Happy heavenly Birthday Tris.

Tris party

I can’t believe Nov 3 is here and you aren’t.
Who would have thought we would celebrate
your 33rd birthday without you?
You never were one for big birthday parties,
but sorry man, we’re having one this year.
We’re going to bake cupcakes, decorate them,
and let the kids spit all over them
while they blow the candles out.
We’ll sing happy birthday to you and laugh at your jokes.
We’ll look around to find you and then remember where you are.
Makes me wonder what kind of celebration
you are having up there.

Tris ice-cream

There will be ice-cream, of that I am sure
because a birthday is not a birthday without ice-cream,
according to you.
Not just any ice-cream though,
homemade ice-cream was the absolute best.
If it wasn’t homemade, it must be soft.
We would get out the container
and everyone would scoop theirs up.
When we were finally ready to put it away,
there you would sit, waiting patiently.
“Aren’t you getting any ice-cream?” we would ask,
even though we already knew you were.
“Yep! Be right there. Just waitin’ on it to get good and soft!”
I think we’ll need to pull out the ice-cream machine
for this birthday of yours.
I don’t think you had a happier weekend
then that one back in June
when we ate ice-cream all weekend from the ice cream machine.
There just isn’t any other way to celebrate
then with what you loved best, so ice-cream it will be.
I wonder if heaven has ice-cream.

Tris porch

We’ll have a good meal for your birthday too.
You were always up for good food,
“That was about the best meal I ever had.” you would say.
You didn’t care for all the fancy things,
just something plain and simple made you happy.
We might celebrate with a big plate
heaping full of beef tips and gravy over mashed potatoes.
Maybe we’ll grill a good steak, just the way you liked it.
We’ll throw in some hot wings for good measure
because we know how much you loved those too.
We’ll skip the veggies, the salad
and the fruit for today, in honor of you.
We’ll all eat up and lean back and say,
“Man, that was good!”
A common comment from you was,
“No one can cook as good as Lisa! My wife makes the best food!”
I wonder what you’re having today!
I wish our imagination was good enough
to see half of your birthday meal up there.

Tris jeepin

Since it’s not so cold out,
we could all go for a long jeep ride tonight.
Back to the cabin, through the woods,
we might even hit a mud hole or two,
just for old times sake.
The kids could bounce along in the back,
having the time of their life.
How does that new gold jeep ride up there?
Pretty smooth compared to that old Willys you had?
Although I’m sure you wouldn’t trade the gold one,
we would love to see you drive that Willys one more time.

Tris shop

I guess we could all go hang out in the shop
to celebrate your birthday.
We could invite all the guys you loved to talk with,
guys that stopped in on a Saturday,
guys that would call for advice, with a question or just to chat.
There is a lot of tinkering we could do up there.
Did you ever just sit still when you were in the shop?
There was always a motor to be torn into,
tools to arrange, a floor to sweep,
the dirt bike to fix, a jeep to repair, or a tractor to fix.
There were kids to entertain,
tools to collect that they had drug around,
some junk food for them to snack on,
or Sunny D for them to sip.
We might plug in the stop light that you were so proud of,
and just watch it glow in the dark.
Are there tools in heaven? Anything to tinker on?
A golf cart to fix or someone’s tractor?
I’m sure you’re in the middle of it, if there is.

Tris swing

Maybe instead of jeepin’ or hanging out at the shop,
we’ll just stretch out on the couch
with a toothpick in our mouth after our good meal.
We’ll all pull out our phones
and check Craig’s list for a good deal.
Pretty soon we’ll drop our phones
and take a little snooze in honor of you.
You must have slept lightly because you still seemed to hear
every conversation that was going on around you.
After a bit, you would whip your legs around, sit up and say,
“Well boys, let’s get this show on the road!”
Are there toothpicks in heaven?

Tris table

But most of all for your birthday,
we would just love to sit around the table with you
and listen to you talk and laugh.
Oh, just to hear another story that you so loved to tell.
We would all interrupt and soon you would say,
“As I was saying …” and pull everyone’s attention back to your story.
We would love to sit and watch you stick your toothpick
in the candle and turn it into a mess.
All we would really want for your birthday is
one more hug, one more laugh,
just one more evening with you.
We miss you so
and selfishly we wish you back,
just for one more time.

Tris relaxed

Happy birthday Tris.
I hope it was thee absolute most
grandest birthday celebration you have ever had!

Revving up Memories

Childhood memories …
Are there certain things you see or do that sparks a memory?
Maybe something you eat or hear?
Something triggers in there and you start thinking about
all the fun you had doing that when you were a kid.

One weekend in June we were in Indiana to see the family.
The ladies (and all the kids) were off doing their things,
and the guys (with not a child in sight) were off doing theirs.
No, we’re not bitter or anything but let’s just say
maybe next time they can see how that maxi van rides.

Anyway, getting back on track.
We both arrived home about the same time
and there on the back of their truck was a little dirt bike.

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When we were kids we practically lived on
a dirt bike, 3 wheeler, jeep or something like this.
Someone asked Tris when he learned to ride.
“Um, I don’t know. When I learned to walk!”
That’s about when I was thinking too.
I don’t remember learning to ride a dirt bike
or drive a jeep. They were just part of our life.

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(I may or may not have been begging for the first ride)

Now backing up a bit.
The guys were in town and found
a bike on Craig’s list, looked it up,
combined their cash and bought it.
On the way home they stopped to check out another one
that was leaning against a tree with a “For Sale” sign.
“We don’t have the cash right now, but we’ll be back!”
And they were.

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They came home and dropped off one,
asked Grandma for some cash and were off to buy one more.

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So now 3 guys are part owners of one bike
and Grandma is the proud owner of the 2nd one.

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Sat. afternoon and evening were pretty much a race track.
If you didn’t know how to ride before, you quickly learned.

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There were races on the road and laps around Grandma’s house.

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If you weren’t old enough to learn, you hopped on with someone for a ride.

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Sometimes the little bikes were on overload.

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They made a few rounds and stopped for the next guy to take a turn.

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On Sunday Tyson and his boys brought the two they have.
Now there were four, which meant much less time wasted waiting in line.

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Since I grew up riding, I thought my girls should learn also.
They loved it.
Problem is, now they have a short lists of “needs.”

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That Sunday was Father’s Day.
Since the guys took care of the dishes on Mother’s Day,
the ladies were generous and offered to do them for their day.

The guys looked out the door and almost offered to wash the dishes.
Kids of all sizes were waiting to start the bikes.

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But since it was Father’s day and all,
these guys went out and took the first ride.

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It was just a little bit like watching a circus.

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Madison said, “This is like watching all those little
cars in the parade that go in circles!”

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They stopped to line up for a race.

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There may have been some cheating involved
since the smallest bike was the first one off the line.

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They were kind enough to come back after awhile
and give their kids a push start.

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Eric decided Dakota is quite old enough to learn to ride.
And so he did!

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He was one proud little guy.
Only problem was, he learned on Sunday afternoon,
just a few hours before we were ready to leave for home.
Now it’s not just 2 begging, it’s 3.
(or maybe 4)

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Grandma generally has a nice looking lawn.
After that weekend, it was more of packed yard/race track.
We hope it recovered.


Dirt bike riding wasn’t the only thing we did that weekend.
It was just the only thing we did after we bought them.

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They had a lot of rain and the creek was just perfect for playing.
We spent hours playing in this creek when we were kids.
Now when we go back, my kids always hope for a little rain
to make the creek just right for a good splash.

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This gang created a body dam to stop the water …

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… from filling these guy’s bathtub.
One of them yelled,
“We don’t need a bath tonight since we took one in here!”

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We also filled up on ice cream that weekend.

Ice cream was pretty much a staple growing up.
We had home made ice cream parties with the cousins.
We ate it before bedtime, for dessert, a snack and just about any time.

When Tim bought an ice cream machine from a restaurant
going out of business, we had it up and running in no time.
Grandma bought every kind of cone, candy and cookie crumble
you can imagine to pile on it and the kids
thought they were in ice cream heaven.

Suffice to say, a weekend at Grandma’s is never dull.
Lots of memories for the next generation, coming up!