Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Youngest Child's Guide to Father's Day Gift-giving

Sometimes picking that perfect Father's Day gift can be a real challenge.

You know the drill. There's only so many bad ties and barbeque-themed aprons that a guy needs. And then it's Father's Day and you're running off to the store and gift wrapping a jar of peanut butter (true story---saw it today).

It's too late for this year, but if you are a youngest child like me (and you know who you are!) here's a handy-dandy gift guide to keep that person from being YOU the next time Father's Day roles around!


If your dad is the Outdoors Type, give the gift of allowing him to take your kids camping for the weekend. Nothing makes ol' Dad happier than getting to spend quality time hauling your kids around in the dirt while you have a spa getaway.

Does he like to eat out? Let him have the pleasure of treating you to a dinner at his favorite restaurant. Because if you weren't there, would he really take the time to go for himself? I didn't think so.

Have a Handy Man for a dad? Well, how often does he get a chance to really use all those tools he's collected from previous Father's Days? Make a fun list of things you'd like fixed around the house---trust me, Dad will be thrilled to feel so needed.

Is your dad the type that has lawn equipment with the words "Turbo" and "Charged" in the title? He's probably in the garage right now running his hands over their smooth finish and wishing he had somewhere---anywhere---to take them for a spin. Don't be selfish!----Call dad up and let him know he can use your yard any time.

Sports fan? Everyone knows that football can get a little boring after a while---spice his routine up a  bit with tickets to a spectacular ice dancing competition.

If your dad is an animal lover, imagine his joy when you allow him to pet sit while you jet off to Hawaii on vacation! I mean, there is no better companionship than a Springer Spaniel who's been left home for a week....He'll thank you later, really.

Is Dad a cook? Does he love to barbeque? Is his favorite channel the Food Channel? Give him the opportunity to showcase off his best moves by letting him cater a dinner at your house. For an added bonus, why not make it a party and invite a bunch of your friends over so they can see what an amazing chef your dad is!

What about the Green Thumb Dad? Well, what's the only thing better than one yard to work his magic on? Two, of course! Buy a bunch of plants---don't hold back, go all out (this is for Dad, after all)---and invite Dad over for a planting party. If you send the kids out to help him while you stay out of his way, so much the better. They will make memories they will cherish for years!


These are just a few ideas to get you started. With a little creativity and thought, any youngest child can take Dad's hobbies and come up with a idea.

I know my dad is amazed, anyway.

Love you, Daddy! 

Happy Father's Day from your little princess...

Best Mother's Day Present Ever!

I have a certain, shall we say, fondness for receiving presents. Just about any occasion will do.

And just about any present will do.

But this Mother's Day, my mom really outdid herself in picking the most sweetest, most specialest present for my sister and myself. Well, at least for myself, anyway. My sister was kind of a dud about it, but that's OK, because it gave me a temporary edge in the favorite daughter competition.

Long ago (exactly how long shall remain undisclosed), my mom made my sister and I matching dresses out of a pretty white fabric with strawberries on it. I LOVED that dress and was very bitter when I outgrew it---that happened with a lot of dresses back then, really, since I tended to forge deep and lasting relationships with my clothes. These days, I'm happy when they pass on because it gives me a reason to go shopping.

Fickleness, thy name is Tina.

But this dress I loved with a passion. I felt cute in it. I WAS cute in it.

And my sweet mother hunted down the same strawberry fabric and bought enough to make my sister and I each a big girl dress out of it.

When I opened the package, my mouth dropped open and I gasped in delight. Instant recognition spanned the intervening years.

When my sister opened the package she went, "You're making us....curtains?"

Tssssssssssst. Score one for the Teenster!

What a Difference a Month Makes...

In one month----from May to June----we went from this.....

To this....

I love spring! Even if I do spend two months of it afflicted with ferocious allergies.

Spring is worth every sniffly, snarfy, sneezy moment!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Like a Beautiful Bouquet....

This month I got to do a very special job at Shopko. Inventory was coming up, and the warehouses were well, problematic. So the week before inventory was scheduled, I got to go out into the two outside warehouses and reorganize THE WHOLE THING!

I love organizing. It feeds my little OCD soul big time. Granted, it would have fed my soul a bit more if it had been my own house I'd been organizing, but it was still very nice.

Of course, I know it will never last. Not unless we close Shopko and turn it into a museum. Which I personally think is a good idea, but I don't think Corporate will go for it.

But I try to think of it as being like a bouquet of fragrant flowers. Flowers fade and wilt, but we cherish them for the time they are with us. And I will cherish this beautiful sight for as long as it lasts.

I mean, look at that! Those are some attractive detergent rows there! (If you're wondering why they are all facing the wrong way, it's so the bar code can be scanned easily to inventory and locate them)

I'll never let go, Warehouse....I'll never let go!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Where the Deer and Antelope Play...

Yesterday I took this picture on my way home from work.

Yesterday I nearly got rear-ended on my way home from work.

Those two events may have been connected.

I might have been driving down the road while pointing my camera out the window so I could get a good picture and I might have failed to see that a truck had come up over the hill behind me. And I might have stopped in the middle of the road right in front of them.

And yes, it is just possible that they think I am the stupidest driver in Montana.

But I got a picture of a pronghorn antelope. So there.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Little Popsicles on the Prairie

Sabbath afternoon, Tiggy and I piled the two dogs in the car and went forth to explore. The wind was biting and cold, even though the temperature itself was a nice, mild mid-30's. It has been weeks since I've taken the dogs for their weekly jaunt and I was determined to go, even though it wasn't exactly---comfortable---outside.

But even I couldn't make myself walk around in the cold to see the same old places for the thousandth time. All the interesting stuff was too far away as cold as it was, so we decided to drive to a little prairie cabin we'd never explored, but that wasn't too far from the road.

Or so we thought.

We dressed warmly---almost too warmly.

Or so we thought.

Ten feet from the car, we'd already discovered that there was no such thing as "too" warm. But we pressed on, while the dogs cavorted obliviously across the field. Stupid dogs, don't have enough sense to freeze when it's freezing.

And the house, which had seemed so close from the warmth and security of the car, began to recede ever further under our shivering gaze.

We were sure we'd never make and they'd find our frozen bodies in the spring (oh, wait, it IS spring). But at last, we reached the house, though we walked sideways part of the way in order to keep our backs to the wind.

I'm sure we would have looked strange to passerbys had there been any. Thankfully, the house is on a pretty low-traffic road (as in, in the hour and a half that we were on the road, I saw one car go by).

And there the house sat, wide open to the insistent prairie wind. Once it had been a shelter to some hardy pioneer---perhaps a family had huddled together for warmth in its one little room. Now only weathered boards are left precariously standing as a testament to their struggles


The house was swaying back and forth in a fascinating---yet somehow alarming---way. Every gust would move the house visibly to the side. I took my life in my hands and got close enough for an indoor shot.

Then looked in the camera and saw that my lonely farmhouse had been photobombed.

Thanks, Tiggy. If the house had fallen on me, at least it would have been worth it to get this picture!

Best friend selfies to remember the day we froze to death---together!

Maybe the wind died down. Maybe we were just going numb, but it didn't feel as cold after a while. We took a few minutes to explore the relics around the house. Out here, people didn't much haul their garbage away. Instead, it was laid out in state in neat, orderly rows behind their houses. There's always some fascinating bits of rusty history to find.

Then we had to walk back to the car. No problem. It wasn't that far.

Or so we thought.

So sad, and at such a young age, too....

(That tiny blue dot at the top of the page is the car. Nope, not far at all.)

I made one more stop before we headed home. I wanted to photograph the icy lake across the road. The patterns and textures of the ice were quite interesting and demanded a closer look.

Or so I thought.

I took one quick picture so I'd have something to show for my foolish detour from warmth and comfort, but then I strolled back to the car. In the same way that the Olympic 100-meter dash is a stroll.

This was the sight that greeted me upon my return.

I think I'll need to wash my windows soon!

It was nice to step back in time for a few minutes, to listen to whispers of the past. A reminder that everything passes away---nothing lasts forever

Except for Jesus and His love for us. That will never change, never rust, never fade.


I spent the weekend in Billings last week. It was a nice change to get away for a while, and definitely a blessing be able to see Caleb for the first time since February. See, he decided to learn some of life's lessons the hard way and has become a guest of the state of Montana as a result. And just like that, the last my three littles was gone.

It's been hard, jumping into the empty nest years so suddenly. I was expecting another year together before I had to worry about working through any of that. I mean, I've spent the last 18 years taking care of kids. It's kind of hard to break the habit cold turkey!

But I'm grateful for all the time we got to spend together in the last year----my intention was for it to be the lead-up for our great final year before Caleb turned 18, but that didn't exactly turn out the way I planned, now did it....

I didn't know that what I thought was the lead-up to the main event would turn out to BE the main event, because in all likelihood Caleb will already be 18 before he's an independent agent again. But God knew all about it, and He is good. He put it in my heart to make the most of our time together and we did. So I'm sorry for what we'll miss, but ever so thankful for all that we didn't.

And last week was the first time since he left that I've been able to make the seven-hour drive down to see him.

I drove down Friday and spent Friday and Saturday nights sleeping at the Adventist church there. They've recently built a new fellowship hall and did something I think is just the coolest thing with the old one.

The church built two bedrooms and a bathroom out into the room and made an apartment out of it. They call it a prophet's room, after the Old Testament story of the couple that built a special room onto their home so that any of God's people that passed by would have a place to stay.

Now this "prophet's room" is available to those who have need of it, free of charge.

It was such a welcoming space, and it was quite cool to be kicking back inside a church.

There was a door leading directly from the apartment into the hallway of the church. Friday evening all was still and quiet, but it was pretty trippy to step through the door right into an active church on Sabbath morning! Felt very rabbit hole-ish.

I sat with a great family at potluck---they were so warm and friendly. They even invited me to the college choir concert their kids were in that evening. I had nothing planned because my visit with Caleb was already going to be over by then, so I braved the one-way streets of the downtown area and attended.

The sun was just setting as I arrived and casting a beautiful glow on the brick buildings. I love architecture, and always get excited to have the chance to take some "city" pictures for a change.

Not that I'd give up my wide-open, empty prairie for the confines of a city, but it's nice to visit.

The concert took place in the St. Patrick's Catholic church and I do have to say, the acoustics were absolutely beautiful inside.  I can't wait to hear what the heavenly choir sounds like if our earthly choirs can make such wonderful music.

It was a lovely, restful weekend, with one more fun treat in store on the way home. I took the ol' car for the first car wash of spring. By that, I mean water has not touched its virginal state since last fall.

I was pretty embarrassed to be driving it---city folk just don't understand how it is when you live on a gravel road.

I came back with a very grateful heart.

Grateful for God's blessings.

Grateful for His mercy.

Grateful for the time we've all been given to love each other.

And praying that I will never take that time for granted because, even on the best of days with no tragedies or unforeseen events, it goes by faster than we ever dream possible.