Sunday, October 30, 2011

Loving Fall! - Part 1

What a beautiful fall season we've had. Actually, this is the first fall I've been home in the last three years and I've totally enjoyed it. But the weather is changing (it's been down to freezing!) and so it's been great fun to wrap up the season with a couple of fun activities.

We took a day trip to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve with our friends Ellen and LeeRoy. They are neighbors, we are in a Community Life group together and Ellen and I are in Bible study and on Mom2Mom leadership team. We also have introduced them to Contract Gin! Anyway ... back to our day trip....

We headed east out of Newton on Highway 50.Took at short ride through the VERY little town of Peabody. It advertises its 1880s Main Street. Drove through a neighborhood with GORGEOUS trees. We all loved the changing of the leaves. Most of the trees around here are cottonwood or elm, which have yellow leaves, so to see the maples with reds and oranges was very beautiful.

Just as my battery flashed red, I realized I failed to bring the bag with new battery with me. I was sick! So I was glad to eke out the few photos of the preserve. So disappointed, as I have wanted to visit here for a long time.

We had lunch at Emma Chase Cafe in another tiny town, Cottonwood Falls. No photos because I was trying to save what battery I had left!

The preserve originally extended up through the Dakotas and into Canada, but over time has diminished considerably. Our Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is the largest in the nation! I should have written down the statistics, but I THINK I remember that it was originally 150 million acres and is now down to 30 million, or is it 5M. At any rate, it's a treasure.

The guide told us the grass is not as tall as it should be due to our lack of rain this year. So sad! He was on the search to find the bison that graze the prairie, but they were not to be found on this tour. This is part of the Kansas Flint Hills, which are beautiful in every season. The soil is only about 18-24" deep, and then it is the flint, so it is best for grazing. The Flint Hills are known for the very large ranches where cattle do especially well.

This was a working ranch in the 1800's. You can take a self-guided tour of the Victorian-styled house. Next to the house is the root cellar and storm cellar, which were connected by an underground passage way. Also close to the house was the 3-seater limestone "necessity" house. The fanciest outhouse I've ever seen! An ice house and other "out buildings" were also nearby.

The views were spectacular!

We walked through the massive limestone barn. This farm was quite an operation in its day!

You can see the limestone walls, which aren't going anywhere, anytime soon!

You can "see forever", no matter the view!

The sun began to drop as we headed back home. A great fall day, out enjoying the beauty of God's magnificent creation!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Lauren!

Today is Lauren's 14th birthday!

Lauren at about 7, with her bunny. Such a cute little girl!

And look at her now, so grown up! A lovely young lady!

Lauren plays soccer and is also on her school's swim team. Looks to me that in this photo she's the only going for the ball! She's a strong girl in so many ways, a leader in the making! She's doing great in her school work, at a very rigorous school. At the end of last school year, she was named the top seventh grade student in the Bible department. So proud of her!

She's the only one of her siblings to have blue eyes like her Dad!

One of the qualities Lauren is known for is her strong Christian witness. What could make a grandparent more proud?!!!

We love you sweetie and pray God's richest blessings upon your life! Keep Him first!

"The Lord will keep you from all harm - he will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Psalm 121:7-8

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Jeremy!

Jeremy is celebrating his birthday today! Wish we could be there, too. I'd fix some of his favorite foods - meat loaf, baked potato, scalloped corn and a chocolate eclair dessert.

It has been such a joy to watch Jeremy fully embrace his roles as husband to Renee and father to Maddie. Jeremy is a wise man who leads this family with his caring heart, generous spirit, sense of humor.  They are a sweet family!

Professionally, he made a job change this past summer when he left Bank of America for a start-up company that deals with banked owned properties. He is manager of a department that markets these properties and we all know that in today's housing market that can be quite a huge job. His days are very full as he shares in family responsibilities as well as he and Renee attend a small group from their church. It's a rare, but very special day, when he can get away to play a round of golf.

We love you, Jeremy, and are so thrilled to see you as the man God created.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Today is our daughter-in-love, Caroline's, birthday! She is such a dear and we love her so much!

She's the perfect wife for Jeff and is a great mother to her five children. She has home-schooled all of them and now has just Katelyn and Allison at home. She's a loyal friend. She loves the Lord and uses the gifts He has given her to the blessing of many. One of her "gifts" is the giving of gifts. It truly is her love language. She is so creative in finding the perfect gift and a gift from her is one that it is sure to please!

Recently Caroline (on the right) and her friend, Kristin, did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It began (very early in the morning!) at the Fess Parker Inn on East Beach in Santa Barbara and ended in Carpenteria, a lovely beach town 26 miles down the Pacific coast. What a fabulous place to walk, the Pacific coast. They spent the first night at the Earl Warren Polo Showgrounds, which had to be a thrill for Caroline as she loves horses.

The race was made up of cancer patients, survivors, and women like Caroline and Kristin, walking for the cause. Santa Barbara walkers earned $4.6 million! These gals trained for months, walking the hills in their communities. Caroline said of the walk, "A couple of blisters and a sore legs but well worth it!  One sign reminded us blisters are nothing compared to Chemo!  Lots of inspiration along the way to keep us going." Caroline, I am so proud of you!!

Love you dear - and miss you TONS!!

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."
Psalm 9:1-2

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Good Book

I recently finished reading another good book, "My Sister Dilly", by Maureen Lang.

This novel is set in the Midwest and the story centers around a mom who unsuccessfully attempts to murder her severely handicapped daughter. It's a journey of survival, restoring and redeeming a life, knowing and finding love from God the Father, as well as a man.

The Author's notes state that the story "was inspired by a combination of true stories: By mothers who've been to the darkest place a mother could go, survived, and found their love survived with them. By other mothers who face each day not knowing how long their children will live and yet make it through with incredible strength. By women who feel they've let others down, not from lack of caring but rather from lack of confidence". I felt as though I was definitely reading a true story. It enlightened me to some of the challenges mothers like Dilly face. A good read!

For local readers, it can be found in our church library (just as soon as I return it!) Non-locals can find it at

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Isabel!

Today is Isabel's 7th birthday! She is such a sweet girl and so much fun to be with!

I started a birthday tradition with the California kids when they were small where we'd go shopping for their birthday outfits then they'd spend the night. Sadly now, the California kids just get a birthday gift card in the mail, but the Kansas kids get the shopping and sleep-over.

So, recently Isabel and I went to Kohl's in Wichita for a little shopping. When we came home we started her birthday cake. She requested a rainbow cake.

Directions for the rainbow cake:
Prepare two white cake mixes according to package directions. Measure 1.5 cups of batter into a bowl and add about 1/4 teaspoon of Wilton's food coloring. Stir until you get desired color, adding more color if needed. The two cake mixes will make six cakes. I do one mix at a time, baking three cakes at a time. Cool and frost in desired frosting color. Isabel chose pink - her favorite color!

Birthday dinner (meat loaf and Grandma's mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli - her choices) and sleep-over followed a few days later. One thing she and her sisters love about the sleep-over is they get to take a bath. Nightly bath time in their house of four girls is pretty much in-and-out. At Grandma and Papa's, they get the tub by them self, they get to stay in as long as they want - usually until the water is cold!, they get to play with toys used by their daddy and uncles - all by themselves. Who would know this would be such a special treat!??!

Another fun thing about the sleep-over is playing games with Papa and Grandma. Isabel chose Crazy Eights, Aggravation (which she won in both!), and Sorry (which Papa won!). Hearing the two of them laugh their deep belly laughs makes anything fun!

And here she is with that cake! It's a rather impressive TOWER of cake - all six layers!

Isabel is in first grade. She reads everything (even the text on the Kohl's shopping bag!) - and reads very well. She has the greatest giggle and most winsome personality. She's a wizz at checkers and Crazy Eight's. A very fun little girl indeed and we are blessed to live right next door to each other!

Happy birthday Sweetie! Papa and I love you very much!