Saturday, June 30, 2012

to grandmother's house we go...

a video is in the works for the first half of our trip.  but with splotchy internet's become a bit of a hassle.  it may just have to wait until we get home.

we have reached the part of our trip where we need to catch our second wind.  we usually have multiple plans a day...swiftly moving from one group of important people to another.  and each person we see...and each plan that we make is just as important and necessary as the next.  chad and i got to go out with our friends last night and didn't get home until 1am...and my niece's birthday party starts at 1 this afternoon...but this morning...i took the morning off.  well...except for icing a bazillion cupcakes in the shape of a pirate skull and crossbones.

so, i woke up fairly early...crossed the backyards to chad's sister and brother-in-law's house...and set up camp at their bar...crossing my fingers for better service.

at this point, i'm surrounded by 7 children and swirling birthday party preparations...but this post is going to be if my life depended on it.


yesterday, i woke up tired.  after having a niece and nephew slumber party the night before...i had lost my "throw another log on the fire" attitude and was craving nothing but sleep. was the day we had planned to pay chad's grandmother a visit.  so...we drove the hour and fifteen minutes to steamboat rock, iowa.  it's a drive that i've come to appreciate.  it's quiet.  it's off the beaten path.  and it's lined by beautiful corn and bean fields.  the last 30 minutes, or so are trimmed with old barns, cemeteries, crop fields, homes, and cylos.  it's a photographers heaven.  i had to hold my breath as we rolled through a 4 way stop that looked right out of the end of the movie, CAST AWAY...when tom hank's character realizes his future holds amazing possibilities.  there just happened to be a big tractor rolling through.  it would have made an amazing photograph...but would have required stopping and getting out of the car...which i thought chad would scoff at.

so...i waited until we pulled into the tiny town, where his grandmother grew up and where she still lives.

she is a pillar in this historical, old town.  just in these last months...she was instrumental in having these entrance signs to town built.

we got out to take pictures.  there was an older man that pulled up on a tractor and got off to talk to us.  i figured he would ask if we were from out of town or tell us about the sign being new...but he ambled over to us...looked at my husband...and said,

"are you chad?"

chad stuck his hand out to shake his hand and said, "yes.  i am."

the gentleman said, "i'm ralph.  i was just up at janice's place this morning and she told me you were coming to visit today.  welcome to steamboat rock."

that's when i realized that the sign was right.  steamboat rock, iowa really is the valley of friendliness.

grandma janice met us at the door with a home cooked meal of iowa sweet corn, her famous mashed potatoes, green beans,  cauliflower, pork tenderloin (for chad), and fresh lemonade with home made sugar cookies.  we sat at her bar, eating and talking while she hurried around the kitchen, putting finishing touches on the gravy and popping more rolls in the basket.  i noticed that she was on auto-pilot...and that being able to cook without recipes, while talking to us and entertaining the kids was a skill she acquired long ago and mastered over the years.

after that, we drove around town...and soaked in the historical stories and scenes from a woman who clearly knew and loved her land and her home and the people who lived there.

this is a plot of land that i think would make a perfectly nice horse ranch.

we went to see his grandfather's grave...a yearly tradition that has become important to chad and his grandmother.  we patiently answer the same questions from the kids each year.  questions like,

"did grandpa kenny fight in the war?  did they play taps at his funeral like they did for your grandpa, mommy?  is he in heaven now?  can i put flowers on his stone?"

i always wish the same thing...

that they could have known him.  and that chad could have been able to talk to him more about the war and let him know how important WW2 history has become to him because of him and how all of our children proudly know what a B 24 is.

but more than that...i wish that he was still here with grandma janice.  you can see in her eyes how much she still misses him when she talks about him.

and that will never change.  she said that she walks around the cemetery every day.  and every week, she makes 5 trips from her home with a watering can to water the flowers around the war memorial there.

i am just one of many people who's life is incredibly enriched because she is in it.

we ended up at chad's aunt jane and uncle jim's home...where the light rain forced us into their old farm house...where dr. peppers, root beer, and fresh cookies were waiting.

sometimes, all you need is a trip to grandma's house.

Friday, June 22, 2012


we made it.  we made a split second decision last night to just go ahead and fly the coupe because we were packed and ready.  why even go to bed?

i'm gonna tell you a little somethin'.  traveling at night is way better than traveling during the day.

a.)  you don't have to make stops to eat throughout the day.
b.)  you/the kids are used to not having to go to the bathroom during the night.
c.)  the kids sleep.  (for the most part.)

what would have been a 19 hour drive was only a 15 hour one.  and my sanity remained in tact because i didn't have to turn around, climb over the seat in order to fetch a dropped doll or book or ds or threaten to turn the car around THIS INSTANT if they didn't stop fighting or answer "are we there yet" 84.6 times.

they watch a movie when it gets dark and fall asleep to the credits.

i pop the ole' earphones in and drift into my own world.

and chad drives...with his thoughts to keep him company.

usually, chad doesn't let me drive.  it's something having to do with the way that i like to stay in the left lane ALL THE TIME and vere off onto the bumpy side lane when i change songs on my ipod.  i don't know.  suit yourself is what i say.

but last night, i woke up at 4am to him wiggling all over the place and bouncing up and down, trying to get a second wind.  i barely peeked open my eye...because if he wasn't tired, i certainly didn't want him to ask me to drive.  that's what we southerners call "playin' possum."  not really.  i asked him if he was ok and he said that he was getting tired.

huuuuuuhhhhhhhh.  alright.

we stopped at a gas station so that we could fill up and i could get a red bull and a protein bar.

i took my position in the driver's seat...put on my favorite mix and took us the next 5 hours.

i'm gonna tell you something right now.  i am not a morning person.  i have no problem acting like a 16 year old with friends in a pool until 2am...but when an alarm goes off at can forget about it.

i'm one of those people that doesn't like to talk in the morning.  i don't want to be talked to either.  i practically stumble to the coffee pot with my eyes closed and my hair all in a disheveled knot.  the kids have learned to just part like the red sea when they see me comin'.

anyhow...the point is...because of that fact...i haven't experienced many sunrises. 5:37 this morning, i found a new kind of happy.

i knew that the rest of my little family was experiencing something very different from me.  their world was still, and dark, and quiet.  their dreams were accompanied only by the hum of the tires on the road.  but mine?  well my world was something totally different.  and i loved it.  because it was just mine.  at 5:37 am...i looked to my right and saw the skyline turn a faint shade of pink.

and to the glorious sound of bittersweet symphony being played only for me...

through the magic of tiny speakers in my ears...

i watched that pink turn into orange...

and my heart sped up as i caught the first glimpse of her.

at first...i could only see her glowing arch in fast glimpses.  but as the music crescendoed and changed rhythm and played it's own concert in my mind, she showed up and lit my world on fire.

i can't remember seeing a sunrise like this one.  and i know for a fact that i have never appreciated one more than i did this morning.

i always think of myself as someone who has to have people to talk to in order to really be able to celebrate something and to feel fully satisfied.  usually i would start cheering for everyone to wake up and watch the sun rise and not understand why they all weren't as excited as i.

but this morning...

i was silent.  i celebrated alone.

and i was perfectly happy about it.

the sun continued to rise.

the music kept playing.

my family kept sleeping.

i marveled at the land that the sun allowed me to see.  the yellow fields merged into green meadows.  the sky was a light blue backdrop to the white, cotton clouds.

and my road ahead... was nothing but bright.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

T - 3 days

T minus 3 days to go and i have to somehow get all of us packed for 10 days in iowa and a week in colorado.  for iowa we need flip flops, sundresses and shorts and for colorado...we need jeans, boots, sweatshirts and fishin' gear.  i'm not entirely sure how to make this happen.  which is why i'm procrastinating.

plus...trout has to go to UK's while we are in iowa and then to a boarder when UK leaves to meet us in colorado.  and i've never had a cat i'm nervous about leaving him in the house for 3 weeks, even though our neighbor/friend is going to come feed him and clean the litter box every night.  this is precisely when chad would say, "i don't know why you brought these animals home."  but surely it will be ok.  i am wondering cat's get mad at you for leaving them and destroy your house?  i don't even know.


chad is not the easiest person to buy gifts for.  he doesn't usually ever ask for birthdays, christmas, and father's day can be a little sketchy sometimes.  but this year...i had a plan for months.

i got marker paper and the hugest sharpie marker that i've ever seen (don't even get me started on how excited that sharpie made me) and made these signs for the kids to hold.

and took some pictures.  the hardest thing about this project was deciding what pictures i wanted to use. 


we have 1 babysitter...and we love her.  i met her family two years ago when her mom ended up being colton's fourth grade teacher.  we hit it off and shortly after, jordan became our babysitter.  she was the goal keeper for clear springs high school and just graduated with a full ride to play keeper for tennesee tech university.  she is a beautiful, sweet, and amazing girl and i'm in complete denial that she is leaving for tennesse at the end of july.  my aiden idolizes her and the boys love her and flicka hangs off her leg when it's time to say goodnight.  so...this project evolved into a graduation present for her.

those pictures turned into this...

and this.


the other day, i was not happy.  there was no real reason, either.  and i hate that kind of unhappy.  because if you can't put your finger on what is making you can't fix it.  all you can do is wait for it to pass.

this happens to me every now and then.  as i've grown older...i've kinda figured out that it usually involves feeling lonely. i love people.  and i love being surrounded by family and friends.  i don't do "alone" very well. last week was a prime catalyst.  kids gone.  chad gone.  neighbors that we spend nearly every evening with on the driveway gone.  boo.

i've also learned that something really small can turn my mood around in a heartbeat.  like saturday, for example, when i was shopping for the picture frames at michaels and i stumbled upon these pencils...

and that glass jar that they fit in so perfectly.  you know how i love my all matching pencils.

so...combine those suckers with a light of moonlit ocean...

and we are in business.

to top the pencils off...i stumbled upon muppet pez dispensers at the check out line.  who wouldn't want a kermit or piggy pez deal?  those things kept flicka occupied through an entire sunday church service.

and if God, himself was telling me "chin up, child"...i found a sippy cup with a deer on it!

a DEER!!!!  and the momma deer is telling the baby deer to "grow graceful."

it does not get better than that.

i'm not gonna lie.

the chocolate didn't hurt either.


properly adjusted.