Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winters on the Farm

I love a good road trip. But none would be more memorable than a road trip we took three years ago. We woke up that Christmas morning, loaded up the van and drove to the farm in Wisconsin for my Dad's funeral. Bad weather was in the forecast for the entire trip. But with friends and family lifting us up in prayer, we forged ahead. We stopped that first night in Wichita, Kansas. It was 1am. My husband was exhausted. We had no more than climbed in our hotel bed between cold sheets, when I remembered the bag of lemons I had brought for my Mom. They would surely be frozen by morning. So Randy (bless his heart) got dressed and went out in 5 degree weather and retrieved my lemons ~ only to climb back in bed and remember his iPod would also freeze if we didn't retrieve it. Poor guy. Oh but it gets worse, upon settling back in bed again for the 2nd time, we realized that Tyler's iPod was most likely in the van too... and Tyler was fast asleep. So, for the 3rd time Randy piled on the clothes and made his way outside along slippery sidewalks to the van. Needless to say, we didn't get to sleep till 2am that first night on the road. 

We literally drove the rest of the way in a bubble. I'm serious ~ snow, ice and sleet surrounded us, but we had nothing. We counted over 50 vehicles buried in the snow along I-35 that day. So scary to think of what could have been. I was also grateful for the many miles to think and pray and remember and grieve my Dad's passing. I needed this road trip badly. Road trips can be healing like that.

 When we finally made it to the farm it was snowing lightly, so I grabbed my camera and captured these images.

Even the cows seemed relieved we made it and gave us a welcoming nod.

I grew up in that big old farmhouse. It was built in 1927. My parents bought the farm in 1958 when I was just two years old. My brother Ron and his wife Deb now own and operate the 350 acre farm.

 We left the farm for Phoenix later that week, on New Year's Eve day, and spent that night in Liberal, Kansas. Everything about that stay was a nightmare. For starters, poor service at the hotel front desk. We rang the bell forever before the gal finally woke up (she was sleeping in the back room). She was either not fully awake, hungover or high, but we liked to never get to our room. And once we got settled and asleep, a loud, drunken party commenced in the room across the hall. I had to eventually tell them to be quiet, or else... sure, like the gal at the front desk would be of any help.

Which brings me to the reason for telling you this story in the first place.
While Tyler and I were finishing our free breakfast at the hotel the next morning, Randy gets this hair-brain idea to wash the van. Ok, I must admit, it was filthy from all the mud and crud that comes with traveling cross country. So he takes it to a car wash to wash it himself. Need I remind you it's 5 degrees. When he pulls up to the hotel, he's driving a dadgum ice cube. I'm not even kidding, the van was encased in a layer of ice.
Well, ever since that infamous washing, the van makes this horrible sound when you turn the steering wheel in the winter. I mean horrible sound. And only in cold weather. This being our 3rd winter of tolerating that horrible sound upon turning the steering wheel.
Well, the other day Randy had to take our 2006 Grand Voyager to the dealer for a recall repair, and Randy tells the guy about what we've been living with for the past three winters. And, well ~ God Bless Tempe Dodge ~ THEY FIXED IT. FOR FREE. 
Best Christmas present in 2012!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

our charity gift-giving Christmas

 The breakfast table was set, awaiting the usual scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and yummy cinnamon rolls. Let the festivities begin!

How fun to discover Emolyn & I had similar flannel jammies. The perfect photo op with my little girly-girls.

So excited for Emolyn & Elsie to open the baby girl twins set ~ complete with bunk beds, pillows, blankets, rocking horses and baby bottles. So fun watching them pretend together.

This Christmas the adults exchanged Charity gifts. We drew names and spent the past year researching the causes that would benefit from the gifts we purchased for each other. My son Shawn drew my name and got me the most amazing, heartfelt gifts. This particular gift was a locket ring. 
This was read to me upon opening my gift ~

According to German legend, God named all the plants when a tiny unnamed one cried out, "Forget-me-not O Lord!" God replied, "That shall be your name."
The Forget-me-not flower is used as a symbol of hope and promise.
This metal bezel ring opens to reveal a bouquet of Forget-me-not flowers. Wear this ring to honor and support those affected by Alzheimer's disease.

Needless to say, I was sobbing, as my Dad had Alzheimer when he died 3 years ago this month. What a special charity gift that I will cherish forever.

And then I opened the most beautiful scarf ~ made by an Ethiopian woman named Merya Mustafa. Click HERE to read her story of hope. Oh my word, my scarf was hand-woven by Merya! I am now not only aware of this amazing cause ~ Connected in Hope ~ but I have a name and a face to go along with my scarf ~ someone to pray for and call out to God for her protection, and to provide for the needs of her dear, precious family!

Shawn also made me aware of these causes when I opened the following gifts ~
click each caption for the charity story.
SENCHA Naturals ~ the sustainable road less traveled

Each gift was given along with a presentation... a story, a mission statement,
that brought us all to tears.
I don't think we've ever had a more meaningful gift-exchange.

Shawn opened a TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS T-shirt, which happened to be the same one Tyler had just opened! I drew Miranda's name and got her a TWLOHA T-shirt too. 

I love this non-profit's vision and mission statement ~

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.  TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

Hey, FREE SHIPPING Dec. 26- 27TH!!!

Whew! We were pretty exhausted by the time we had opened all our charity gifts.
So emotional and often times gut-wrenching. But so rewarding.
Here's a list of the other charity sites we ordered gifts from ~

Nathan & Jonah were such good little boys ~ Merry 1st Christmas little cuties!

"Sisters, sisters..."

Emolyn & her Mama playing at the park after lunch.

Our neighborhood park is only two houses away. So fun to get some fresh air and exercise before consuming more food. Again, the usual spiral ham & raisin sauce and scalloped potatoes. But this time I added a new recipe I found on Pinterest ~ roasted parmesan green beans. Definitely a keeper.

Hope you're finishing up 2012 surrounded by family, friends and real good food!

Linking this post to ~

Friday, December 21, 2012

decorating Christmas cookies

Even though this was an image from last year, I really did make a similar mess yesterday. And yes, we continue to celebrate Arizona's 100th by making cactus cut-out cookies. 

But before we got down & dirty decorating cookies, we opened presents that my sister Ginny made for all the Thompson girls ~ scarves! Beautiful, soft and sassy scarves!

Emolyn & Elsie were so excited to have their very own big girl scarves just like their Mama, Mimi and Aunt Miranda! See what I mean ~ Elsie gettin' sassy with some Taylor Swift.

Ok, let the games begin ~ Shawn's prized "cruncher". Emolyn is not intimidated in the least.

Elsie doesn't see the point in going to all that work when you're going to pop it in your mouth anyways. I can see her point.

Tyler was perfecting his skills till he could work on his show-stopper.

And there you have it folks ~ upon submitting their entries on Facebook, Tyler seems to have won with his patriotic mitten. Although Shawn is demanding a recount. Good work everyone.

Meanwhile Nathan & Jonah were content rockin' & rollin 'round the Christmas Tree.

Unless they needed their Mama's attention.

Once fed and diapered, they were good to go.

Jonah's thinking that puppy on Nathan's shirt could use some brotherly love... 
in the form of drool.

Emolyn was decorating cookies long after everyone had left the table. I couldn't believe her attention to detail ~ we've got a budding artist in our midst.

In fact, she may have devoured some of her finest work. But we'll never know.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 days of sickness

I've been sick going on 12 days now... achy flu, bad cough and headache.
I know, not exactly how I wanted to spend my days leading up to Christmas.
So, indulge me while I reflect on 12 things that are probably not going to happen this year.

#1 ~ my sugar houses & vintage bottle tree collection

#3 ~ my vintage glass balls collection

#4 ~ my church village

#5 ~ my husband's n-gage train that goes around the church village

#6 ~ ice skating (just kidding)

#7 ~ Lego Advent Calendar 

#8 ~ Ikea Christmas wreath (still hanging at the wedding venue)

#9 ~ caroling at my mother-in-law's home

#10 ~ my Manzanita branch hanging over my kitchen island

#11 ~ had hoped to make this with the books I collected for the wedding centerpieces

#12 ~ Christmas baking

Oh wait. I may not be doing much baking this year, but tonight is our annual Christmas Cookie Decorating Extravaganza with the whole family. As soon as I send this post, I'll be rolling out the gingerbread dough and baking pans of cookies for the family to decorate tonight. 
So very thankful this last round of antibiotics seems to be working and I am on the mend. 

My Christmas may not look like I had hoped this year, but in light of what happened to 20 little ones and 6 adults, I can think of little else but those families in Connecticut that will never know a Christmas without being reminded of the horrific events of last week. My heart goes out to that hurting community and the healing that will be going on for years. May they see Jesus more clearer than ever before.
May we never forget to pray for those that lost little loved ones. I can't even imagine...

(all photos taken from past Christmas posts)