Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Carving of the Pumpkins

Transforming pumpkins to jack-o-lanterns is another adventure.

First step: Cut the top off and "gut" the pumpkin.

Dramatic response necessary! 

Second step: Create a face/design and begin carving.

 The options are endless, and personalities are oft identified in the carving.

Third step: Finally, we light a candle and let the jack-o-lanterns glow into the night!

On Halloween night, over a dozen carved jack-o-lanterns lined our sidewalk. The sight elicited many comments, and the little trick-or-treaters peered at each one carefully as they walked by.

The best comment of the evening, "All these jack-o-lanterns are great~this is the Picasso of pumpkins."

Disclaimer: Once again I did not manage to capture all the pumpkins and participants, but merely the essence amidst the chaos.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Orange you having fun?"

The orange orbs dot the fields of fall.  An excursion through the pumpkin patch in search of the perfect carving pumpkin started when the kids were little enough to ride in the wagon. And through all the relocations around the country we have tried to cling to that tradition.

Even though the kids are growing up...

Senior friends gathered pumpkins and memories. 


Sharing the tradition with exchange students!

Perfect pumpkins to be transformed into emojis!

As the 13 kids roamed the pumpkin patch I failed to capture all the smiling faces in the fading light, but we wrapped up the evening on a hay ride with plenty of memories for the heart!

Sunday Drive

As a young child, I recall Sunday afternoon drives on back country roads or through the Black Hills. Between fighting with my brother in the back seat, I would watch the random deer graze or the antelope sprint across the prairie. The magic of discovering paper by peeling the bark off a birch tree is still a vivid memory, but stopping for an ice cream cone at a drive-in on the way home was the best~I still love a chocolate/vanilla twist cone!

And I still love a Sunday drive, and now my kids banter in the back.

Several weeks ago as fall bestowed the first kiss of color to the landscape, we drove over to the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois where we stopped to visit the Garden of the Gods.

Tough kids!

Goofy teenagers!

Dashing ahead and scrambling up the rocks to wait~youthful fun!

Behaving for a brief moment!

Pondering life.

A beautiful hike

The boys couldn't resist the temptation to climb the highest outcropping where the crowds did not go!

And the tradition of Sunday afternoon fun continues.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Catching Up

The whirlwind of leaves tumbling to the ground today aptly represents life in the past few months.

A few days before school started in early August, we welcomed another daughter for the school year.

The first day of school our senior drove away for her final year accompanied by her brother, now a sophomore, and new sister, a junior.

Then I walked down to the bus stop with our 5th grader~her last year at elementary school.

The enthusiastic dash to the bus will ebb in the years ahead, I know.

A few weeks later college started, but our oldest daughter will be immortalized in her senior picture...only mom will keep you young forever!

Friday evenings were spent relaxing on the deck, including marshmallows roasted to golden perfection.

A new tastebud experience! She loves smores!

Partners in crime!

Friday night lights in the Reitz Bowl...

supported by the community.

And backyard sunsets.

The beginning of busy days with more adventures to come!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Little Girl's Dream

The heart of this country girl fluttered nervously...unbelievably...
as this little lady took the stage at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

As a young girl, I spent hours listening to the stories she told through her music. I would entertain the idea of one day meeting the woman whose voice was like a familiar friend, but I knew it was only a dream.

But sometimes dreams do come true, as Ron and I landed coveted tickets to a historic concert that sold out in 30 minutes (thank you, Kiahra).

And we sat in awe throughout the entire concert, as Dolly may be a little lady, but she has a big personality and even bigger voice! The Ryman Auditorium is acoustically a perfect showcase for her stunning vocals.

As a kid with limited exposure to Hollywood and the rich and famous, I am not enamored with celebrities. Dolly is an exception. She is talented beyond belief as a songwriter and vocalist, but she exudes a genuine humility with a deep pride in her roots. And just as reminder of how she takes care of her family and community, it was a benefit concert for the Dustin J Wells Foundation. The proceeds support the W.O. Smith Music School which share the gift of music with underprivileged students in the region. A few of the students performed during the opening act...and what an opportunity...and what talent.

Dolly performed a second concert the following evening to support her fellow musicians and the Ryman Auditorium. It wasn't planned, but after recognizing the demand for  concert tickets I suspect she felt she could fill a need for everyone...
her generosity is inspiring!

This evening will stay close to my heart forever.

Now, if only I could take my children to a concert...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Days

The sultry summer evenings are disappearing, and a crispness in the air is emerging~autumn is coming.

I look back with nostalgia at what this summer looked like...

Swim team


Fishing in the backyard

Hockey Camp (and a serious growth spurt)

Pittsburgh revisited...old friends...familiar streets...

...infamous sandwiches and fancy nails.

 A favorite city scape with old friends after a late night run on the incline car!

Road trip with friends

Badlands ballerina~Dances in Sky (bestowed upon her by her brother)


The Black Hills of home...

with one of my girls.

Did I happen to mention fishing?

With an uncle?

And more laughter?

Historic Deadwood~Days of '76

 Two Top juts out of the South Dakota prairie marking the region my great-grandparents homesteaded...

And generations later the love of family!

Quiet country roads

I may have forgotten, but bow fishing...

Friends pondering the meaning of life...

or perhaps more likely~ why summer days are so fleeting?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Christmas Road Trip

Christmas vacation continued with a trip to Nashville, Tennessee. 

Our first stop was lunch~Tennessee BBQ!

The dry rub ribs were amazing! My grandpa and grandma loved them, as did we!

Then we were off to tour the Ryman Auditorium where early country legends oft performed. 

Afterwards, we walked the streets of Nashville past the honky tonks and bars. Music blared into the streets. 

Later we returned to the Ryman again for a performance of the Grand Ol' Opry.

The next morning we ventured down to the Belle Meade Plantation. 

Crazy girl!

Pausing along the train will my big girls!

The cozy cabin was a stark contrast to the opulence of the mansion.

Afterwards, we headed south to Franklin, Tennessee. Clouds were gathering when we arrived and purchased our tickets to tour the Carnton Plantation. Then the story of how the bloodiest battle of the Civil War unfolded, resulting in the mansion becoming a makeshift hospital. 

Afterwards we walked over to the Confederate Cemetery in the drizzle. We saw the rows and rows of headstones~proof of the carnage of battle. As we embraced the somber reality the rain came pouring down.

Then we settled in for the ride home in the rain.