Saturday, December 29, 2012

I Wonder What the Record Is...

...for oldest chicken who laid an egg is?

Yesterday, I got an egg from my Easter Egger hen.  She is 8 years, 2 months, and 14 days old.

She was an accident in my flock for two reasons.  
I did not order her, she was placed in my order of chicks for "warmth".
She was supposed to be a He, that's the reason she was added for warmth and free from the hatchery.

She is the only surviving member of my original flock.
Here's what the hatchery has to say about my little hen:

Ameraucanas, known as the "Easter Egg Breed", are a multicolored breed. They have beards, muffs and a normal tail with a tail head. They are often incorrectly called Araucanas, which have ear tuffs, are rumpless, and do not have a tail head which gives them a bunny tail appearance. Most of the chicks sold as Araucanas are really Ameraucanas, which are excellent, efficient producers of large eggs of many colors and shades including blue and green.
Standard weights at maturity are males-5 lbs. and hens-4 lbs.

(note: Ideal Hatchery is selling chicks that they are calling Ameraucanas--it hangs on the edge of being false advertising.  People are looking for a breed that lays blue/green eggs.  Very few of Ameraucanas actually lay blue or green eggs.  As of Penny's breeding, the gene that is responsible for blue and green eggs had been lost.  Why they don't advertise these chicks as Easter Eggers is beyond me.  Oh well.  I digress. She was free and I'm not complaining, just pointing out a tiny flaw in their advertising.)

Hers is the egg at the base of my hand.  As you can see, it is neither blue nor green.  I know they don't let roosters run around willy-nilly at a hatchery, so I don't know what went wrong with the coloring of her eggs.  They have always run between slightly pink to light brown.

Color doesn't really matter.  I was just terribly lucky that the person at the hatchery who has the awful job of sexing the chicks was wrong about Penny.

I long ago gave up convincing Penny that she can retire from laying.  She doesn't like me much anyway and none of us tend to listen to those we don't care for.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Events of the Day

Christmas day was very busy.
Eric and I finally fell into bed on Christmas Eve at 1am.
Both Jenna and Quinn were up before us on Christmas morning---a first in our household.

After coffee was started and cinnamon rolls were put in the oven, Preston was awakened for gift opening.

As per our family custom, the Christmas story is read from the bible and a prayer of thanksgiving for the past year is said.

I'm not usually one to post a picture of myself, just out of bed in the morning, but this one was worth posting.
Jenna, made me a Christmas donkey, since I wouldn't be getting a real one.  

 He was quickly placed in our nativity to relieve the poor donkey on duty.  Jerusalem to Bethlehem is 6 miles---that was a long way to carry a very pregnant woman and her belongings.  
I love his little ears, so forward and curious.

We opened gifts and were blessed beyond measure again this year.

After a breakfast on my feet, I began working on Christmas lunch.  I had made three pies on Christmas eve, otherwise we wouldn't have eaten by 1pm.
Our menu for the day:
Prime Rib
Roasted Beets, Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash
Green Beans
Cranberry Relish
Pecan, Apple and Pumpkin pies

We were so thrilled that Mom and Dad decided to come eat lunch with us, instead of us bringing lunch to them.  Mom checked out of the hospital on the 23rd, and checked into a skilled nursing facility close to home.  It's not as bright and airy as the hospital, but she likes the rehab folks and the director of admissions is a friend of theirs.  I was worried that mom would decide she could skip staying there and just go to rehab every day somewhere in town.  She had decided yesterday that she wanted to shower at home before coming here for lunch.  All I could picture was she or dad falling as she maneuvered in and out of the shower.  By the time she got here for lunch, she was exhausted.  She assured me that the next shower would be taken at the nursing facility. "It was just too hard", she said.  I know it was so difficult for mom to come eat lunch, dessert, and then open presents, but we're so very glad she did!  

Katie, Preston's fiance' also got to come to lunch, which I was thrilled about.  I wasn't sure we'd get to see her at all.  

By late afternoon, a very cold front had blown in.  Winds gusting to 40mph and the temperature dropped from the 60s Christmas morning, to the low 40's by nightfall.

This morning, it was 25*.   The deer, despite the cold winds, were out for their meager breakfast of hard corn and veggie/fruit scraps.  Both chicken and deer waters had to be broken.  The same for the water at a neighbor's house.  I'm looking after their dogs, cats, chickens and goats.  Turns out goats don't really like goat jackets, no matter how cold it is outside.  Only two of the four were still wearing them this morning.
Jenna was already up and about at 6:30, getting ready for her trip to Los Fresnos to spend a week with her boyfriend and his family.
The rest of the day will be spent cleaning up and resting up.  Eric is outside right now, learning the finer points of his new smoker.  I think we'll have smoked meatloaf for dinner tonight.  I'll let you know how it turns out. 
I hope you had a nice Christmas and got to spend it with people you love.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Feel Good Story

First, let me say that this is NOT me.
I did not get a donkey for Christmas.
It's unlikely that I ever will.

However, my friend Justina, over at Morning Bray Farm got a donkey for Christmas.

In all reality, Harriet the donkey, got Morning Bray Farm for Christmas.

Harriet hit the Powerball lottery when Justina and Don decided to add another donkey to their herd.
She has been adopted into donkey heaven-on-earth.

Harriet and Justina

Carson, one of Justina and Don's best buddies, documented Harriet's arrival at Morning Bray.
You will recognize Carson's blog and Harriet's story over on 7NSN.

Please click HERE to read all about it.
One of the happiest Christmas stories you'll ever read.

Thanks Justina and Carson for letting me steal!

Merry Christmas to Justina, Don, Carson and all their critters! 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Two days ago, I reported that mom hadn't had a good day.
It worried me.

Yesterday was wonderful.
They took her off morphine, gave her two units of blood, and she was back to her old joking self.
Today, she was to be released to a skilled nursing/rehab unit very near our house.
Dad packed up their belongings and was just waiting for the afternoon doctor to sign off.  The ambulance was cued up to transfer her from the hospital to rehab.

"Not today" was the word from the doctor.

He doesn't like mom's blood pressure numbers.  He felt it made no sense to transfer to a rehab unit, only to have her turn around and have to come back to the hospital.
I agree, but still feel like it's a setback.  
I know she and dad are anxious to get moving forward toward her finally coming home.
We are, too.
I forget that we can't change time.  We have to live each minute.  We are not allowed to skip forward to the end, no matter how much we might want to.

Friday, December 21, 2012

In Slow Motion

photo by Jenna

Blogs are where folks write down their thoughts and share them with the world.  Most often, they are just about day-to-day life.  At least the blogs I read, anyway.

When life for the blogger takes a turn from 'day-to-day' to 'hour-to-hour',  their blog falls by the wayside.  Usually because the person blogging has something critical happening in their lives and they don't want to or have time for sharing it.

My normal blog posts are usually pretty light and airy.  Not much substance.  Then I think about why I started this blog---to be a journal of sorts.  It cannot be just about the bubbly things in my life, it must also be about the real things in my life.

What's real right now is that my mother-in-love did not have a good day yesterday.
She was less coherent on day 2 following surgery than she was on day 1.
She was weaker.  She didn't eat much.  She dozed a lot.  When she was awake, she was confused.
Her physical therapy seemed pointless, as she was too weak to help her therapists.
Dad seems to be very tired as well.  He's sleeping on a rock hard murphy bed in her room at night and sitting in an uncomfortable chair all day.

After speaking with her doctor, I have hope that today will be a much better day.
He has answers for all our concerns.  Medical explanations for each problem she is having.  He has a fix for each one, too.
Hemoglobin levels, morphine, oxygen, activity---all will be altered to bring her back into a state of awareness and willingness to get back on her feet.  
We are terribly, wonderfully blessed to have a surgeon/doctor that cares enough to talk to us and explain things.  
The hospital mom is at, is a small one.  One that we were reticent for her to go to.  We were worried about the level of care. I think the whole family would agree that it was the very best decision that we could have made.  The staff is helpful, caring and accommodating. The place is crazy clean.  Doesn't smell like a hospital.  It's also quiet.

Right now, we are all living in a bit of slow motion.  It feels like the world and the people around us are moving much more quickly than we are.  I'm sure you've seen movies where the main character is standing in real time, while the people around them are a blur.  That's us.  Well, I can't speak for my family.  I guess I can say that it's me.  I take care of things as best as I am able--at my own pace.  
Chores don't get done, but my mother-in-love is infinitely more important than folded socks or a clean kitchen.  
I think God provides that ability to live in slow motion.  To quiet the brain and think about what's most important.  To sort out what needs to be done from what has to be done.  
Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Loving Grandma Can...

...bring out the best in people--especially grandkids.

I mean no disrespect, but my own grandmothers didn't necessarily inspire that warm, loving feeling that grandchildren can have for their grandmothers.
My dad's mother was, quite frankly, a bit frightening.  I do know that her life was one of sadness and drama.  I don't know what sort of family she came from, but I doubt it was much better than the family she married in to.  Being cranky and a little bit scary is allowed if you've lived a hard luck life.  

My mother's mother was a lovely woman, but I think she was grandkidded out by the time I arrived.  My mom was one of 11 children---next to last.  Many of her siblings had 5-10 children themselves.  I think I was up in the 50s in number of grandchildren. There were great-grandchildren before I was even born. I have sweet, gentle memories of her.  She was never cranky, just mildly disinterested.  I was okay with that.  Didn't hurt my feelings or anything.

My point is, my relationship with my grandmothers, would not have moved me to be helpful should one of them fall ill.  In fact, when my paternal grandmother died, we were on vacation.  I was 10.  My 'own-little-world'-10 year old-self, was hotter than a wet hen that we had to leave our vacation because Granny had died.  She was dead anyway, why did it matter if we didn't rush right back.  How dare she die while we were on vacation.  Writing that makes me cringe, but it was true.

My kids have a great, loving relationship with their grandma.  She loves them "skyfulls" and the feeling is mutual.  It's those feelings that bring out the best in my kiddos this week; and I suspect the weeks and months to come.  If they didn't love grandma so completely, they wouldn't be so quick to offer to look after one another, clean up the house, help with dinner, pick up Quinn from school, rearrange their social plans in order to help me out, and even pick up deer corn so "my" herd wouldn't go without breakfast.  The list is longer, but you get the picture.

Mom had her surgery late yesterday afternoon.  The doctor said her bone looked great for a woman her age.  We assured him it was genetic.  She comes from a long line of healthy, long-lived people.
She will stay in the hospital for 3-5 days, and then move on to a rehab facility for  1-2 weeks.  That means that Christmas will be spent away from home.  I know that will make her feel awful, but hopefully our love will sustain her and hold her up when she's feeling blue.  
Goodness knows she deserves it. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Well, Doggoneit!

My dear Mother-In-Love fell and broke her hip this morning.
She will be having surgery tomorrow to replace the 'head and neck' of the femur.
Thank the good Lord she's wonderfully healthy. 
I'm so very happy that they only live two miles away.  It will enable us to help Dad look after her as she heals.
If you're the praying kind or the keeping-folks-in-your-thoughts kind, healing and patient spirits would be appreciated by us all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Promise You'll Love This
Adjective: Emotionally rewarding or Uplifting

I hope this video elicits the very definition of heartwarming for you.

Click on the link below the picture

Never judge a book by its cover. :)

Photo credit:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Office Assistant and Our CEO

Hobbes: Geez, he's slow.  I guess I'll just chill up here while he's trying to figure out which ornament goes on next.

Hobbes: How on earth did he get to be CEO?  He's not very efficient.

Me: Dude, I'd be careful what you say.  He's efficient enough and benevolent enough to buy your smart-aleck self, cat food each month.

Hobbes: Oh, I forgot!  
Yes sir, that looks perfect right there. 
Can I get you a hot chocolate?
Me: That's more like it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Donkey Dilemma

Ever since I can remember (47 years, I had a birthday in October), I have wanted a horse for my birthday or Christmas.  There were even times when I wanted a horse for Easter.  Thought maybe the Easter bunny could skip the nasty hard boiled eggs and leave a horse instead.

I read books about horses, I rode horses.
I even went so far as to save an empty popcorn tin from Christmas because it seemed like the perfect place to put oats for my horse.
A horse that never came.

Fast forward to 2001.
At age 36, I finally got my very own horse.
Santa, nor the Easter bunny brought him.
In November of 2002, I had a horrible "wreck" on him.
By May of 2004, I had sold him.
I'd spent a couple thousand dollars getting training for both of us.
In the end, I gave up.
He had, as horse people say, "my number".
I averted another enormous wreck and ended up with a backside full of cactus spines in the process.
In the meantime, I came to realize that while horses are beautiful, they can (and will) kill you.

Trouble is, I still love all equines.
I got my heart set on miniature horses.
I researched, I looked, I hung out with my friend, Deb's miniature horses.

One problem.
A problem that still exists today.
I do not have my four acres fenced.

I've also switched equines.
I want donkeys.
Two donkeys.
Miniature donkeys.

I've got this crazy idea that they are more stable-minded animals.
They don't seem to think everything is going to eat them or kill them.
They don't spook.
They also seems to want to hang out with you.

So, here I am again at Christmas time, wishing for something four-legged that eats hay.
I've even located a rescue organization that has many miniature donkeys that need homes.

Maybe I'll save a popcorn tin this year, just in case.

Me and a Miniature donkey in Wisconsin.  I really, really wanted this boy and his spotted mini donkey friend to fit in my carry-on for the trip home.

Me, Beau and Chet at Danni's place.

You can tell I don't like donkeys at all.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dozing Deer

Does dozing dreamily at dusk.
Do does dream of daffodils, dahlias and daylilies;
Delicious, delightful, delectable delicacies?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Round and Round the Mulberry Bush

You thought he was going to fall in, didn't you?

I did, too.

He decided not to use one of his nine lives on swimming with frogs and fish.
The frog and fish live to see another day.

In case you're wondering, it's an old toy box that I recycled into a 'rain barrel'. 
I added mosquito fish to eat the mosquito larvae.
The frogs can eat the fish.
Circle of life sort of stuff.
Hillbilly fish tank at its best.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Days 22-30: The Little Things

I had intended to post every single day this month.
I didn't, obviously.
I'm not going to sweat it though.  
It doesn't mean I'm not thankful, it just means I'm not good at posting every day.

On Facebook, an old friend from high school suggested these last two days be filled with the small things we are thankful for.  
I hope to hear from you, regarding the small things you are thankful for as well.

Hot coffee with creamer and sugar-first thing in the morning

Dog kisses

Cat lap (those of you with cats will know what this means)

Frost on plants when the sun first hits it

Raucous laughter from my children


The steamer in my shower on really cold mornings

Eric letting me put my cold feet on his warm feet in bed

Feeding the deer every morning

Temperate winters

The smell of the earth in the spring, as I'm readying my garden

Lunch with girlfriends

Sharing popcorn, a soda, and Jr. Mints with Eric at a movie

The sun on my face on a cold day

The one tree on my property that changes color in the Fall

Inquisitive Wrens-my favorite bird

Eggs from my chickens--over medium with toast

Prayers before bed with the kids

The smell of an orange being peeled

Chickens, scratching, wandering, and eating

Visiting with folks in the kitchen at church

Chocolate chip cookie dough

Giant old oak trees on my property

My dogs, playing and chasing wildly

Kisses and hugs from my mother and father in-loves

My swimming pool after mowing for 2 hours

Toast with cinnamon and sugar

Coke Zero

Squirrels picking through the chicken scratch I put out for my chickens


That's a very small list, but a beginning.
What about you?
What's on your list of small things?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 22: Abundance

Thanksgiving Day, 2012

Our menu for today:
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Cranberry Relish
Roasted Butternut Squash, Sweet Potatoes, and Beets
Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

We all ate our fill and then some.
Grandpa and Grandma took home enough leftovers to last them a couple days.
We, at home, have enough leftovers to last us a couple days as well.

We used the nice dishes, glasses and silverware.
That means we have two sets of tableware.

We ate our meal in the dining room.
Which means we have two dining areas in our house.

We filled our dishwasher with dishes and hand washed the special stuff.
That means we have an abundance of water.

Grandpa and Grandma parked two deep in our driveway.
Which means we have more than one car.

I am so very lucky.  So very blessed.
As silly as it sounds, I'm thankful that I am aware of my good fortune.
I can't imagine taking all these things for granted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 19-21: Health Insurance and My Soapbox

Preston and Katie
Halloween 2012
Yesterday, Preston had his wisdom teeth out.  What would have cost nearly $3000, cost us $300.

Eric and Quinn went to the Dermatologist yesterday.  I have no idea what their first time patient + office visit costs, but I'm sure it was something----something we only paid a portion of.

I do know that they both came home with prescriptions that are evidently so expensive, that they came with rebate cards.  What's interesting/sad, is that when I read the fine print on those cards, I found out they are only useful for folks with insurance.  Seems counter-intuitive.

On November 10, 2009, Eric broke his femur while mountain biking in Arizona.
Rescue, Ambulance, Surgery, Hospitalization---all covered by our insurance.

On November 16, 2009, Jenna went into the hospital with what was likely a problem appendix.  She was even admitted and surgery was scheduled for the next day.  Luckily, the doctors weren't feeling a rush to use the knife, because they ended up deciding it wasn't her appendix after all.

Those two incidents right there, could have put us in debt for the rest of our lives, had we not had insurance coverage.

In 1992, 1994, and 1998--Years my children were born.  All in the hospital.  Uncomplicated births.  The bills that came with "insurance portion" and "your portion" were staggering.  

In 1993, I had a precancerous condition that had to be addressed.  Minor day surgery.  No anesthesia needed.  Just a portion of my doctor's time and a few fancy tools.  The bill was for over $3000, and I paid my little co-pay of $25.  

I take medication every single day.  Stuff that I need to be healthy.  Meds that keep me OUT of the doctors office.

Preston would have been just fine if he'd kept his wisdom teeth.
Eric and Quinn's lives were not in danger if they hadn't gone to the dermatologists yesterday.

However, the rest of the things I listed were things that HAD to be addressed.  
Things that, if not addressed, were life threatening.
I remember saying something to my doctor about my little surgery about insurance or not insurance.
"Wow, this costs so much!  What do women do that don't have insurance and can't afford it."
Her answer was callous and cold (Eric hated her).
"It develops into cancer and they die or they put it on their credit card."

I don't know where any of my friends or most of my family members stand on the healthcare issue that was a hotbutton topic during the last election.  I really don't understand the finer points of the Affordable Healthcare Act.

I do know, that my Dad had to choose between his medication and his groceries/heat/electric bills.

Healthcare act or no Healthcare act, I am profoundly thankful that my family has insurance.  
Thankful that we do not have to choose between healthcare and crushing debt.
We, in my family, do not have to put a visit to the hospital "on our credit card"---or worse yet, "die".

We are the richest nation on the planet. 
We, if we truly follow in Christ's example, have an imperative to take care of one another.
No one should ever have to choose between treating cancer and making a house payment.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 17-18: Quiet Moments and the Entertaining Cat

 On Day 3 of my month of Thanksgiving, I wrote about being thankful for frogs.
It sounded weird then, and sounds weird today too.

The frogs in that post live in a container (old toy box) I use to collect rain--when and if it rains.
These frogs live in my swimming pool.
Like their neighbors from the toy box rain barrel, these frogs spend a lot of time contemplating the troubles of the universe and how to fix them.
Or they contemplate what to have for dinner.
Or if they'll even have dinner.  Maybe they had a big lunch?

 Or they may be simply trying to catch a few rays of sunshine to warm up their amphibian blood.
Probably the latter.  

I do know that their quiet behavior causes me to feel quiet.  
To think.  
To mediate on how good my life is.  
They even remind me how very lucky I am to have an entire swimming pool full of water.
Some people on our earth have to walk miles each day just to get a gallon of water.
I have 45,000 gallons of it just sitting in my backyard.
 Then, just when I think I have fully understood this particular blessing, Hobbes comes along to enhance it.
He believes that frogs are better off in his belly than just sitting around, contemplating the universe.

Each day, he makes me smile--simply because he is curious and never gives up.
Each day, he stalks the frogs. 
 He's never going to catch one--unless he learns some diving skills.

So, to sum up--I often meditate on continuing to be curious about the world around me.
I hope it wasn't too difficult to follow that line of thought.
It'll be on the test. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 14-16: Extended Family Blessings--His

Eric, David, Joel
Mom and Dad
50th Wedding Anniversary, Branson, Missouri
To say that I hit the jackpot when I married into this family would be an understatement.
I've said it before and I'll say it again--I don't call these people "In-Laws", I call them "In-Loves".

They all, in one way or another, have shown me unconditional love.
I'm also sure they all thought Eric was crazy when he picked me to marry.
He had chosen a girl that came from a train-wreck of a family.
Despite their worries, they welcomed me into their family.
They didn't judge this book by its cover.

Simply stated, I would not be the person that I am today, if it weren't for these people.
They helped me shed the lessons about relationships and family that I learned growing up.
I brought in a lot of great qualities, and they helped me shine them up a bit.

Joel, Brian, Nathan
June, 2010
Beth, Olivia, David
Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary

Jen and Nathan
Wedding Day: June 16, 2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 9-13: Extended Family Blessings--Mine

Do you call members of your childhood family, "extended family"?
I don't think so?
With the elections behind us, I don't think anyone would be confused if I called my childhood family, my first family. :)

I was the product of a his-mine-and-ours family.
My mom was married and had John and Nora.
My dad was married and had three girls (I have no relationship/contact with them).
They both divorced.
Then my mom met my dad, they married and had me.
Fairly straight forward.

Pictures of my dad predate the era of the digital camera.
This morning my printer isn't understanding my need to scan photos.

He died February 14, 1991 of a multiplicity of things.
I don't know what the death certificate says.
Too much alcohol, too much smoking, emphysema, and bi-polar disorder.
He also had PTSD that was never addressed from World War II.
Finally, he had a broken heart.
My mom left him when his self destructive behaviors just became too much.
I understood.  Still do.
He sounds like a train wreck, but was really a wonderful guy.
He taught me how to fish, hunt, and treasure the great outdoors.
He taught me how to train a dog and love a dog.
He loved all of us--my brother and sister, too.
I loved him. Still do.

And as Forrest Gump once said, "And that's all I'm going to say about that."

Mom, Me, Nora
My mom was the next to last of 11 children.
I think her mom was pretty done much raising kids by the time she came along.
So was her father.
In her later years, her mother told her that if birth control had been available, 
she would only have had 3 or 4 kids.
She never received the tools to nurture her children, as she was never nurtured herself.
She taught the three of us to be good, responsible, reliable adults.
She taught us to be caring and thoughtful of others feelings.
She was just never the huggy, kissy, lovey sort of mom.
She didn't come to softball games, or school plays, or choir concerts.
She loved us.  We loved her.  It just wasn't always clear.

This blog was started because of her.
Because I didn't really know who my mother was.
She never seemed happy my entire life.
Not depressed, but always like she wanted something more out of life.

She died on February 23, 2008.
Lou Gehrig's disease is a torturous way to go.
It's the worst kind of thief.
It steals your body, but leaves your mind.

"And that's all I'm going to say about that."

John and his wife, Kat
My big brother, John was a great guy.
He would do anything for anyone, all they had to do was ask.
If he had his demons, he kept them pretty well hidden.
I don't have a lot of distinct memories of him, as he was 9 years older than me.
By the time I was big enough to really be paying attention, he was out of the house and married.

That marriage was blessed with two children.
My how he loved them!  
Fondly, fiercely, totally.

He died on March 10th, 2011.

I'm not sure what his death certificate says either.  
I believe he had an anaphylactic (allergic) reaction to something, and his advanced emphysema complicated the hospital's ability to properly understand the seriousness of his symptoms.
In a matter of 36 hours, he was dead. 
I miss him.
I wonder if he's riding his motorcycle in heaven--without a helmet--because he can. :)

"And that's all I'm going to say about that."

Thankfully, the rest of my family is alive and well!

Nora and me

My sister, Nora and I are 7 years apart in age.

We weren't close when we were young.
My memories are mostly of making her crazy by being a snotty little sister.
We had to share a tiny bedroom and I was constantly in her stuff.
She moved out her senior year in high school, because we moved and she didn't want to transfer to a different school.  Who would?
We did't reconnect until I had Preston.
Being an aunt suites her.
She's perfect at it!
She has no desire to 'parent' them, only to play with them, to hang out with them.
She's funny, and silly and listens to them.
She remembers things about their childhoods that I don't.
She loves my kids, and John's kids with all her being.
She mourns when they seem to outgrow her.
She's thrilled when they get big enough to finally come back to a relationship with her.
All kids do that---just like she and I did.
We parted as teenagers and came back together as adults.

We are all so blessed that she's a part of our lives.

My kids would not have some of the values they have, if it were not for her influence.
We love her madly!


Saran and Ryan
This beauty is my brother's daughter, Sarah.  Here, she's marrying her love, Ryan.
We love him too.  He's such a great match for her, and a great dad, too!

She is smart, funny, thoughtful, crafty, practical, and the best momma I've ever known.
I still remember when she was born.  I was in middle school and we had a pay phone in the lobby.
I must have spent $10 in quarters that day, calling the hospital to see if she'd been born yet.
I didn't know it took all day to have a baby.
She was the first grandbaby on my side of the family.  She had every one of us wrapped around her tiny finger when she was around.  

Grayson and Bella
Speaking of babies, these two scrumptious creatures are Sarah and Ryan's little ones.  All I can say about them, is that they are so lucky to have such great parents.  That's not true, I could have a whole blog post (or 2 or 3) about how yummy and silly and entertaining they are.  The only bad thing about them is that they live in Wisconsin and I live in Texas.  
We're not exactly neighbors.
In late January/early February, they will have what Sarah and Ryan are calling their "tie-breaker".  A little brother or sister will join this happy little family.  
The sex of the baby is going to be a surprise.  I can't wait meet him/her!

Lastly, I have Sarah's brother/my nephew, John.
I can't find one good picture of him (eyes closed, back turned, blurry, etc)!
He is married with 6 kids.  He's making his daddy very proud in heaven, of the man he's becoming.
He's making the rest of us proud as well.
He's had a long row to how and had some struggles, but he's now got a job in the same tool and dye shop that his dad worked at forever.  A steady paycheck and benefits are his rewards--long in coming.  I'm so thrilled for him!
He's a hunter like my dad was.  I'm sure they'd have had a fabulous relationship, had my dad lived longer.  It's funny how young ones make you miss the ones that have passed on.  

And there you have it.  
My childhood family.
It continues to evolve.
Some have passed on, but the rewards of the new ones help ease the pain.