Family Vacation

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Perfect Start To a Wonderful Vacation

It doesn’t seem possible that two weeks ago we were preparing for our Black Hills vacation. This was going to be the first time in years that my husband and I would be vacationing with our sons….and the first time ever vacationing with our daughter-in-laws and grandchildren.

It seems like the planning, since last Christmas, went on forever. Then there was this flurry of last minute planning and then wallah…..we were on the road and heading west.

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Dignity

As we came from three different locations; we arranged to meet at Chamberlain, South Dakota for a chance to group up and walk around a bit. Two of our sons and their families met us there.  If you have never been to the rest stop at Chamberlain; you really need to put it on your list of places to stop.

There is an amazing, huge, beautiful sculpture called Dignity. It is a sculpture of a native American woman and it is wonderful.

There is also a great visitor center with hands-on activity for the kids and kids at heart.

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Grandpa and a couple grandkids

We then made our way to Wall, SD where we went through the Badlands National Park. This has always been a favorite for our family as anyone is allowed to scramble up the rocky hills…..another great place for the young and young at heart!

You do have to be a bit careful around the edges as the rock is very crumbly and some drop offs are a long long way down.

Wall Drug Backyard Splash Pad

The grandson enjoying the Wall Drug Backyard splash pad.

The day was very hot and it was a relief to cool off at Wall Drug and get our free glass of ice water. Even though it was hot, my husband had to have his nickel cup of coffee!

The grandkids all enjoyed the splash pad and ended up dripping wet. The youngest was not so sure about it once the water had shot right past his nose and landed on his head.

The next morning we met up with the middle son and his wife over a morning snack of the famous Wall Drug maple frosted donuts and that nickel cup of coffee. My husband loves to check for the day-old donuts as they are much cheaper that way! I really should have gotten a photo of those donuts….they are amazing.

We then headed on to the Hills; with a short stop at Ellsworth Air Force Base to check out the airplanes and the museum. It was a good place to let the kids run and it was easy to keep track of them all.

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Mt. Rushmore

We journeyed on to Mt. Rushmore….or as my granddaughter called them….”the Fat Heads”. They are doing a lot of reconstruction right now at the heads and we had to hike the long way round in order to get close to them. I did not make it the entire way but the rest of our bunch did.

Little Red Inn

The Little Red Inn, Custer, SD

By the time we made it to our home for the next couple days it was a relief to just relax. We stayed at a place near Custer, SD called the Little Red Inn. It really felt like home, as the decor of the place had chickens!  How perfect was that? If you need a place to stay near Custer this is a wonderful place with lots of room to run. (I did not take this photo as I forgot to take one!  This is from their website….and no….I get zero kickbacks on this.)

We also celebrated the wedding anniversaries of two of our family. They were both married in July…thirteen years apart.

IMG_6214I went with my daughter-in-law to the Dairy Queen in Custer; to find an ice cream cake for the occasion.

We could not find an anniversary one but decided this one pretty much related to being married.  After all…..marriage can be a wild ride at times!

We spent part of our evenings playing the corn hole game. We played this as couples and held a tournament. My granddaughter named our teams without our input. We found out we had teams named: The Fairies, The Unicorns, The Mermaids and The Princesses. Fortunately the guys were pretty secure in their manliness.

I managed to talk our bunch into a group photo the night before they headed for home. It was not easy with little kids but we did manage to get one. It might not be perfect…but I decided…neither are we.

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Family…..a true blessing

Our time spent with our children and grandchildren was indeed a blessing. I am not sure they realize how much those days meant to us….perhaps you have to be older to appreciate gathering and all being together, in the same place, at the same time.

It was a blessed time of making memories. It was a great time of game-playing, laughing, sight-seeing and just being together. Hopefully we can enjoy more times of the Fairies challenging the Mermaids at corn hole……

“Family is like music,
some high notes,
some low notes,
but always a beautiful song”
Unknown

 

 

Building Relationships

Lake Okoboji

Last week was a busy week but such a good week. I love days that include time spent building relationships with those around me.

We attended an ice cream social with my in-laws and then we had the honor of attending their birthday party that was held, at the assisted living facility where they live, for those with August birthdays.

Friday saw us having supper with friends. It was wonderful grilling burgers, making s’mores and just relaxing around the fire pit. You can discuss a lot of topics while gazing into those dancing flames.

We spent time solving the world’s problems….not that the world will take our advice..but I thought we had some pretty good solutions. We caught up on the lives of our families, laughed about crazy things we had done in our youth and compared notes on a variety of things.

We capped our week off with a day at Lake Okoboji. Our oldest son and his family spent the weekend there. For some reason their entire summer had gone by without having a family time away. It was a blessing to share a day with them and I am so grateful they let us crash their vacation.

My sister and her husband graciously took us for a long boat ride around the lake and we had fun watching our grandchildren swimming around the boat to cool off.  It still makes me smile thinking about asking my granddaughter if she was a guppy.  She replied quite firmly that she was NOT a guppy but that she was, indeed, a mermaid!

The week was very busy but, oh so rewarding.  I hope that the memories made will last long into my children and grandchildren’s lifetimes. I hope they remember their grandpa and grandma as people who showed up.

I hope that the thought of us brings smiles to the faces of those who know us. I also hope that the thought of these times together makes them long for more of those times.

It reminds me that God longs for relationship with us. He longs to spend time with us. He wants to know our hopes, our dreams and to celebrate special events with us. Relationships with people and with God take time and effort.  It is not easy but is so very worth it.

May this week find you building relationships with those around you. Whether it be in your prayer time, building s’mores, or swimming with a mermaid…take the time for it…you will not be disappointed.

 

 

Our relationships are precious,
valuable treasures from heaven,
and we should handle them carefully,
always looking for ways to build bridges to each other’s hearts.
Victoria Osteen

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/victoria_osteen_708325?src=t_relationships

Changes

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The weather in our part of the country has definitely taken a turn for the better. Just a few short weeks ago we were getting weekly blizzards. Yes….that is weekly….pretty much three weekends in a row we had blizzards that sent us snowfall in the double digits.

In an attempt to find the beauty in those snowfalls a few weeks ago I set out with my camera to intentionally find it. As I roamed around on the west side of our house I spotted the garden gate propped against the house. I love those vintage garden gates. I also loved the mirror image of the lines from that gate, on the side of our home.

For some reason, the transition from winter to spring was very abrupt this year. There was no gentleness about it. It seemed that one day we had a blizzard and the next we had warmer weather that melted the snow in a day.

Life can be like that quick change in the seasons. One day your children are small….and in the blink of an eye they have grown and are all getting married. Another blink and you are attending the baptism of a grandchild.

The other weekend we had the great joy of attending one of those baptisms for a grandson. It was a wonderful weekend with family. Seeing four generation all gathered for that celebration was a blessing. (I would have put a photo here but waited to long to get permission! I like to let the parents decide if it is okay.)

It was a great reminder that life keeps changing. Seeing those four generations was a reminder of faithfulness and love. I have a feeling my little grandson has no idea of what a blessing that day was….yet.

In years to come I hope he comes to treasure the stories of that day. I pray it will always be a reminder to him of the love of family and friends and the faithfulness of generations.

I pray that when he is older and looks in the mirror; he sees a glimpse of those generations that came to celebrate. I hope that he realizes that life and seasons may change quickly, but some things will remain constant…..the love and blessing of family.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren
is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life,
but rather a legacy of character and faith.
Billy Graham
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/billy_graham_626354

Sticking Close

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I have spent the day finding my house back. By that I mean….clearing off the counters, putting away dishes used for Christmas, storing away bedding till the next time the family comes and picking up small Lego pieces from some of the oddest places.

When I got to the crate that held the nativity set I had to grin. This year we chose to let the grand-kids help set up the nativity set…..not because it was in the original plan, but because I had run out of time to get all my Christmas decorations put up this year.

As I read Luke 2, my husband handed out the pieces as they were mentioned. The virgin Mary was placed gently, by small hands, on the crate, followed by the donkey and Joseph. As the story unfolded the pieces found their way to their places. (We did realize that the wise men were not mentioned in that chapter but we gave them a spot anyway.)

For me, reading that chapter was a time I will always cherish. I got to see the events of that miraculous night, through the eyes of a child in all its’ wonder and joy. They did wonder why my set did not have the angels and the heavenly host or camels for the wise men……and I had no answer for that one. (I later headed over to Amazon and E bay to see if I could find some, but obviously my set has been long discontinued.)

The thing I noticed about the placement of those involved in the Christmas story was how very close my grandchildren had placed them together. They were all huddled as close as they could get to the baby Jesus.

Their closeness made me grin but it also made me stop and think. What if we all huddled and stuck that close to Jesus? What if we lived life with the wonder of a child and the simple faith they display? I have a feeling this world would be a much more peaceful place if that were the case.

I love all the little reminders, in my home, that my family has been here…..candy canes have disappeared off the tree.  I love the fact we had a few hours to spend all together….all at the same time. I am humbled by the grace displayed by my children and by their willingness to make this day special when we gather.

May we all “stick close” this coming year. May we all be blessed with grace and all the little reminders of those we love. Blessings to you all!

 

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
our children teach us what life is all about.” 
― Angela Schwindt

 

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you,
but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind,
your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” 

― Frederick Buechner

 

Celebrations and Family Ties

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There are times in a person’s life that can get bogged down and overwhelmed with all the busyness and stuff going on…..and then you are gifted with a space of time where you are allowed to be reminded of what is important……relationships.

This past weekend we were gifted with such a weekend. We made the journey to our son and his family’s home to attend grandparent’s day at our grandson’s school, watch his school Christmas program, make cookies, and also see both grandkids’ Sunday School program.

Our Friday started early in the morning so we could drive the four hours to the school and be on time for grandparents day. Once we went to his room we were treated to a tour of the school with our 6 year old grandson as tour guide.

The energy in that school was amazing! Hallways full of children hauling grandparents around to various rooms they had classes in. The music room was a big hit…..I think it might have been the gong hanging on the wall that every kid had to demonstrate for their grandparents.

We journeyed to the art room, science rooms, the library and our grandson also asked if we wanted to see the principal’s office. I asked him if it was a good thing that he knew the way to her office….his response…”Only if you’re bad.” It was not exactly a saintly response and I had to stifle a chuckle on that honest answer!

That evening we were treated to an amazing concert by the K-5th grades. I am pretty sure that when I was a kid we were not that talented…. We got to hear recitations, praises sung, drums made from buckets and garbage cans played in perfect time and kids playing ukuleles.

The fun continued on Saturday as we made Christmas cookies. Three generations, two grandmas, one mom, two grandkids all making cookies makes for lots of fun.

I will admit our cookies may not have had a lot of elegance to them but they did taste good! We knew they tasted good because we had plenty of volunteers for the taste testing job.

While we rolled, cut and baked the guys did some late season yard cleanup. Watching them work outdoors it was hard to believe it was December.

The few days spent with the kids were busy but it was such a good type of busy. We were able to spend time talking with our kids, giving hugs, and fill our laps with grandkids and learn about life from their perspective. It slowed the season down, narrowed our focus to what was important and made us grateful for family and things that hold us together.

I love the fact that small kids are masters of cutting to what is important. They have an artless way of reminding us that life is short and we should cherish the moments we are given. They are honest in their emotions, excited in the wonder of life, and seem not to hold grudges when things don’t go as planned. It makes total sense that the Bible tells us to become like children.

There is a lot to learn from a child and I, for one, am ready for more lessons.

 

43 Life Lessons from Kids.

1. Be grateful for what you can have.
2. Hold hands with those you love.
3. Celebrate the seasons.
4. Make every day the best day ever.
5. Even if it’s not fair you don’t stop trying.
6. Fight for what you believe is right.
7. If you’re bored, find something to do.
8. It’s good to dream.
9. Tell those you love that you love them.
10. Time together matters most.
11. Things don’t have to always be sorted perfectly.
12. Sometimes spontaneous days are the best.
13. Often structured days are needed.
14. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth.
15. Humming and singing can be beautiful.
16. Observe others.
17. Never by afraid to try something new.
18. Sometimes it’s best to just jump.
19. Live fully.
20. Share with others about things you love.
21. You’re never too old to play outside.
22. Forgive and move on.
23. Name calling gets you nowhere.
24. Even if you don’t feel tired, still go to bed.
25. Talk with each other.
26. Imagine all that could be, and not what cannot.
27. Look people in the eye when you talk to them.
28. Laugh.
29. Always say thank you.
30. Little gifts mean a great deal.
31. Wake with a clean slate for the day.
32. Respect your elders.
33. Give things away – don’t hold onto everything.
34. Find out more about people.
35. Make sure to tell others why they matter.
36. Some days you don’t have to make your bed.
37. Run in the rain. Or the snow.
38. Care.
39. Listen to your emotions, but don’t sit in them.
40. Be genuinely interested in others.
41. Don’t give up.
42. Love today.
43. Be free to be you.
Te
d Rubin

 

 

Letter To My Grandkids

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This week my husband and I had a wonderful week.  We celebrated our anniversary (see previous post) and also celebrated the birth of a new grandson. It was a great anniversary gift!

Normally my husband would be in the field at this time of year combining and hauling soybeans to town. Due to the the very rainy weather, we were able to take off a couple days and go meet the newest member of the family.

It is an amazing fact that a new baby can literally hold your heart in their tiny hand. I am not sure how that works…..I just know it is true.

As I worked on mudding and taping in my closet (also see previous post) I had time to think about that little boy. My mind also wandered to our other two grandkids in another city. There are so many hopes, dreams and prayers wrapped around those three little ones. This grandma’s heart is full.

My mind wandered to what I would say to them in the future and I thought a letter might be the way to go:

Dear Grandkids…..yes, you wee ones who hold my heart in your little hands. I want you to know how very much this grandma (and your grandpa love you.) I am not sure you will understand that until you are parents and grandparents yourself. (I know your grandpa loves you because he even helped change your diaper! And yes it did take two grown men to do that task.)

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I cannot deny that you three are probably the smartest and cutest children that God ever placed on this earth. I am quite sure every grandma would say this of her grand-kids….and she would be telling the truth!

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My prayer for you three is that you grow strong physically, emotionally and spiritually. May you be honest, compassionate and willing to help those around you. 

There might be those who try bully you; but I will tell you what your great grandpa told me…..”Kill them with kindness.” He also told me that “smiles are free, money doesn’t grow on trees and hard work never killed anyone.” I think he learned those things from experience and they are good things to know and a good way to live. (He told me lots of other things-like good pranks to pull- but that might have to wait till you are older or you will get in trouble at school!)

Never be afraid to live life fully. Living is different than just surviving…..make sure to live and not just survive. When all else fails…take a deep breath and keep going.

Don’t be afraid to love and help someone. It is a risky and messy thing to love someone because no one is perfect (and…..surprise!!!…..that includes me and you!)

I pray you love the Lord and have a close relationship with Christ. He will never fail you……others might and probably will, but God’s always got your back. Remember to have fun….remember to laugh everyday. It makes the good things better and the hard things easier. 

There are so many things I would tell you…..so many things I would want to warn you to be careful of. I would love to shield you from all the hurts in life…..but I can’t. Don’t let those hurts make you bitter….let them make you better.

Life is an adventure. Make sure you explore, learn and keep your eyes open to the amazing things around you. People are amazing, nature is amazing and life is full of possibilities.

Life isn’t always easy and it is not always fair. I used to tell your dads that when stuff happened. They learned that phrase and later gave me those same words back when I needed to hear them.

I remember the mistakes I made as a mom. There are so many things I would do over but I can’t turn back time….Now as a grandma I have a second chance…..you, my grandchildren, are my do-over. That thought brings a big smile to my face! It is a blessing and a gift.

I want you to know that no matter where you go or what you do in this world you will always be loved, I will always be your biggest cheerleader and my door will always be open. (If you mess up…..I will tell you….because I love you!)

May you be happy, may you be healthy and may you always know that you are loved.

~All my love……Grandma


13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

“You is kind. You is smart.
You is important.”

― Kathryn StockettThe Help

Pictures of the Day

Old Glory

I had planned to get a post out much sooner that this! Sometimes, life just gets really busy….in a very good way. Family and special days like the 4th of July come along and blogging gets put on the back burner. Throw a wedding in the mix and the weekend gets very busy!

I thought I would share some of the photos that make up our annual 4th of July celebration. I come from a family that is very solid in their American values….God, Family and Country. Freedom is a concept that is firmly embraced and celebrated with everything from bubbles to fireworks.

Time to Blow a Few Bubbles for the Dog to Chase

My granddaughter found a great way to pass the time while the adults visited and caught up with each others’ lives. There is always lots of laughter, good-natured teasing and hugs when this bunch of people get together. This is a holiday that is a bridge that draws our groups of family and friends together….it is a meeting place that we can count on at least once a year.

Building Sand Castles on the Beach

We also found that spending time on the small beach was so much fun. The water was so cold, the day was hot; so it was a great mix.  Whenever you mingle sand, sunny days, water and kids you have a sure winner for a great morning.

Walking Past Arnold’s Park With Grandpa

Time To Imitate The Statues

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day is filled with eating, boat rides, swimming, eating some more, sharing recipes, laughing, eating again, walking to the Emporium for snacks, and of course the fireworks display at the end of the day. They have one of the best firework shows in our area and it has become a family ritual.

My grandkids thought the bottom photo looked like a firework rainbow. They were in awe of the loud booms that sounded like cannons echoing across the lake. The shore line was alive with people sending up bottle rockets and patriotic music was piped through local radio stations. The songs were synchronized with the fireworks.

We did have to sit through a drizzle type rain but it was well worth it and most people stayed for the entire show. I think it was because we knew when the Grand Finale was over…..so was our holiday with family and friends.

Arnold’s Park at Night

The day ended as it had begun…..hugs, smiles, and seeing our flag waving  in the breeze. It was an amazing day (as always) and was even better because of who we spent it with. I hope you enjoyed a day that was fulfilling and fun all rolled into one!

 

 

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle,
but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees,
the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.
You may think you have overeaten,
but it is patriotism.
~Erma Bombeck

 

 

Sweet Weekends

IMG_3303 Getting Ready to Plant

This past weekend started in typical Spring busy fashion. My husband was trying to beat the forecasted rain by getting his soybean fields disked and planted by noon on Saturday. The rain forecast was not the only reason for the deadline…..some was  due to kids coming home for the weekend…… He got the beans planted with time to spare….a little time.

Once the planting was done; there was time to visit with the kids, grill burgers for the noon meal, play legos with the grandson, set up tea parties for the granddaughter and get ready and out the door for a bride/groom shower for a nephew and his fiancée that evening. It was a busy day, but it was a great kind of busy!

Sunday was one of the sweetest I have known in a long time……I got to sit in church; next to my kids and my grandkids. There is not much sweeter in life than a wiggly grandchild sitting on your lap in church. True….it is hard to listen to the pastor….with all the shushing going on and the distractions…but it is sweet indeed.

I had decided I wanted to try get pictures of the grandkids after church, as it was a beautiful day. I had to convince my granddaughter that taking her picture was a grand idea. She was not convinced till I resorted to bribery……spoonfuls of chocolate frosting are a wonderful enticement for photo ops.

It didn’t take long and the rest of our children arrived for Sunday dinner. It was such a blessing to have them all around the table. The laughter, good-natured teasing, re-hashing of old memories, and good food was such a treat for this mom. There is not much I treasure more than sitting and watching my family enjoy being together.

We did have to venture outside after dinner as it became time for the “Big Reveal”. (I am learning that “reveals” are the new thing as a way to tell people what gender your child will be.) My youngest son had told me last week that they needed lots of space for the reveal they had planned.

IMG_3329 Prep for the Reveal

I knew my sons like to shoot clay pigeons so I had a feeling this reveal would involve shooting some type of target….I just wasn’t totally sure what. I found out soon that it would also involve a lot of noise!

My son had found the idea on the internet that you put either pink or blue chalk powder in a box with tannerite. When you shoot it…..it makes an incredible amount of noise and it sends up a huge cloud of the appropriately colored powder. It brings to mind 4th of July fireworks!

IMG_3336 The Reveal

I must admit….it was impressive and it was a lot of fun finding out we were going to have a new grandson come September.

The day was capped off with  finishing up the leftover cupcakes from the shower the night before. There was more laughter, more planning for future gatherings, more fun in just being together for a few more minutes, before they all had to get on the road and head for home.

My children have definitely learned the art of hospitality. They live in three different cities, but they remain close. They stay in touch and make sure they all stay part of each other’s lives.  It is a blessing and a gift to see the joy they have in being together. That joy makes for a very sweet weekend.

Like branches on a tree,
our lives may grow in different directions
yet our roots remain as one
Unknown