An Exotic Party!

Jamie is the only one of our kids who lives more than thirty minutes away.  Bless her heart, we still get to see her about once a month because she makes a point to come to us and is so understanding that it is difficult for us to get to her very often.  One – because of the nature of her Dad’s work – the trucks must roll on!!!  Second, that is the way it is when you have livestock, especially dairy animals, everyone has to be fed everyday and the goats must be milked!

Yesterday we made it a day trip.  Jamie was having her annual “three kids/one birthday party” so we loaded up the three grandchildren who are the same age as her oldest daughter Kailyn and away we went on the three and a half hour journey to Aunt Jamie’s house!


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It was non-stop chatter all the way!  We had slug bug wars, and I-spy wars and rock/paper/scissors wars.  We even had an “argument” about if cheerleading and being a ballerina was a sport.  BUT it was the boys saying it was and Maddie arguing it was not!  Saying it was entertaining is an understatement!  The three and a half hours went quickly.  Once we were there,  it wasn’t long before the party began.  Instead of the usual birthday party fare, Jamie had a lady bringing wild exotic animals for the kids to see and interact with.  It was like having our own personal zoo.

We held a baby kangaroo……….

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Fed a Parrot……………………………

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Gave a bottle to some little South American creature that I could not pronounce his name let alone spell it…………………………..

photo (28)       We got to touch another South American creature that I forget his name but looks a lot like a baby fox.  He was SO soft………..

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We got to watch a baby cat that looks like a cheetah but has another one of those unusual names Grandma can’t remember or pronounce, Jocee and Kailyn even got to sit beside him!


We even got to hold a young albino python!  Here is Kailyn getting a little nervous about those eyes looking at her!


It was time to leave way to soon, but leave we must.  Two of our little passengers went to sleep right away, along with grandma, but Blake stayed awake to complete a fierce Slug Bug battle with PaPa.  I don’t think we will ever know the winner because I think both of them were seeing Slug Bugs that were not there!  Got everyone deposited back home so they could get to bed for the coming school day and we all deposited another memory in our fun times file.

A Perfect September Evening

I got to do one of my favorite things tonight, haul square bales of alfalfa.  Now, I know the guys who were with me, my hubby, my son and a good kid who helps out when we need it, would tell you if I was on the back of the trailer actually handling the 70 pound bales of hay I would feel differently.  But since I was only the part-time driver and part-time picture-taker, I can honestly say there would have been no better way to spend this unseasonably cool September evening. field   The weather was perfect, the sky and clouds were beautiful, the alfalfa SMELLED SO GOOD!!!  The bales were green and leafy and I loved daydreaming about Gracie and Liddy, my two dairy goats, eating this good protein-rich food this winter.  And hauling hay takes me back forty years to when Mark and I were first married.  He owned a hay buggy and hauled thousands and thousands of bales each summer.  I spent many days, riding on the buggy with him as he and his two helpers loaded the hay, and then I sat on the driver’s seat watching as they stacked it in the farmers yard or barn.  Much water has flowed under the bridge since then!

Not many people bale square bales anymore, most people only bale big round bales, but for those of us who only have a few livestock, square bales are so much easier to feed and they really cut down on waste.  We are very fortunate that Mark’s cousin Terry has a square baler and is willing to use it.   I’ve told him more than once I don’t know what we’d do without him!   Mark can still haul them, albeit not as easily as he once did, so we call in favors from son’s, grandson’s, or anyone else we can get on the back of the trailer to help out. hauling   There is just something so wholesome feeling about being in an isolated hay-field, doing something that was common 50 years ago, but rare today.   Something just feels  right about getting ready for winter, filling every nook and cranny we can find with hay to feed our animals well through the coming winter.  I know this is going to sound really odd, but I have a feeling  a lot of people understand what I am trying to say –  It feels real.  It feels like real life – the way life should be.  All the horrible problems going on in the world seem a million miles away.  One can breathe the fresh clean air, fragrant with the smell of newly baled hay, look at the blue Kansas sky, listen to the birds twittering in the trees and imagine, for just a moment, that life is peaceful like this field, everywhere and for everyone.  I wish it were so.
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Class Reunion

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This weekend was my 40th high school reunion.  My high school class has always seemed closer than most.  We have had a reunion every five years ever since we graduated and we’ve always had a good turnout.  I have had a good time at all of them, but this one was by far my favorite.  It was so good to see everyone and catch up on lives, kids and grandkids, in fact one night was not near enough.  Several of us “girls” decided to meet for the hometown 5K a couple of days later so we could catch up more as we walked.  During our walk we caught up more and then our conversation turned to the people who weren’t at the reunion, where they were and what was going on with them.  We named one girl who never came even though she still lived in town.  One friend said, “Guys, she won’t ever come.”  “Why?” we asked and her answer hit me hard,  “She came to the first one but no one talked to her, she sat in the corner alone and everyone ignored her.”  I knew I was as guilty as anyone else.  I realized right then that yes, we have a pretty good turn out each reunion but it is the same group of 30 or so.  Did we hurt the other fifteen people so bad they want nothing to do with us?  How terribly sad.

“Oh” I said, “I wish she would come now, she would see how much we’ve changed.”  All of us agreed we are not the same people we were thirty, twenty, even ten years ago.  Honestly, this was probably the first class reunion I was 100% comfortable in my own skin.  Comfortable with who I was, not worried about what I weighed, not worried about what others thought, just so happy to see old friends.  Free to be completely myself.  I feel like everyone there felt the same way.  It was a really good weekend.  But it really bothers me that in the past, we have hurt others who should have been there, so badly that it is still affecting them at almost sixty years of age.  Did I see her and possibly others sitting there by themselves?  Did I not think about how they were feeling?  Did I think I was too good, too important to go over and say Hi and ask what had been going on in their lives?  Apparently I did.  Lord, forgive me.

I can’t change the past, but maybe I can change the future.  I don’t know if I can convince anyone that I and everyone else have changed but I can at least reach out and try.  And I can make sure it never happens again.  I can make sure that I never ever treat anyone else like that again.

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Cindy, Pauline, Brenda and I at the start of the 5K

Seven Days

It’s been a week, seven short days.  It was nine o’clock in the morning when I got the call.  It still seems like a dream, still seems like I might wake up and I can go back to when Stacie was happy, thrilled to be carrying her fourth child, go back to being excited about expecting three new grandbabies in a months time.  We were hoping for three girls because we are heavy on boys.  We have eleven grandsons and six granddaughters.  We day-dreamed about them being best friends, playing dress up together, having tea parties, spending the night with one another, telling each other secrets when they were teenagers, being bridesmaids in each others weddings.  We’ve watched the other seventeen be each others best friends and knew it would be the same with these three.  But something went wrong and Cara was taken from us early and now there will always be a missing link.

I have been shocked by the gut-wrenching sorrow this has brought us all.  I miss that baby girl with all my heart and in addition, Mark and I hurt so bad for her mamma, thinking about the pain she is going through is like a knife in our hearts.  My big, strong husband is wondering what on earth is wrong with him because he cries at the drop of a hat.  I assured him there is nothing wrong with him, he is just a Dad.  Sleep doesn’t come easy and when it finally does, it doesn’t last long.

I don’t believe that God MADE this happen, I know we live in a broken world and – things – just – happen.  But, one evening I was sitting outside by myself, crying for what we’d lost and for the pain that my daughter was going through.  My heart cried out to God – “Why?  Why did you let this happen?  I know you could have stopped it!”   I immediately heard a voice from my heart ask me, “Are you going to trust me?”  It stopped me in my tracks and I finally answered, “Yes, Jesus, I will trust you.”

And already, after just seven days, I am in awe of the way God is working in each and every one of us.     I cannot believe the grace He has given Stacie to deal with this.  Her strength has amazed us all.  My fifteen year old granddaughter Lexi told her Mom “Cara never got to live, so I want to let her live through me and I want to be the best person I can possibly be.”  That thrilled me when I heard that because that is exactly how I feel!  I want to be the best person I can be.  I want to be the person that Jesus wants me to be, not only for Jesus, but also because I want Cara to be proud of her Grandma.  Then I found out that Stacie’s sisters all felt the same way.  That sweet baby who was only on this earth for 21 short weeks, has changed us, has affected this family in a very positive way.   I don’t want that to ever end.

Lord, help us keep these thoughts forever.  As time and your precious grace makes the pain lessen, I pray we don’t go back to life the way it was before Cara.  I don’t want to waste her sweet life by not letting her change me for the better.  I don’t want to waste the trust you asked me to have, waste the lessons You are going to teach me.   I pray that Cara stays with us forever, in our hearts, in our minds, in our attitudes, and in the way we live our lives.  Amen

It Begins


One week ago today, life was great!  Just like it always had been.  I had no idea I was about to head into a very sorrowful period of life.  My daughter Stacie had an inkling.  Unbeknown to me, she had been concerned because she had not felt her baby move very much for the previous few days.  She has her own doppler and she had been checking for a heartbeat regularly.  Once, it had dipped to 98 and that was concerning to her but she blamed it on needing new batteries.  She checked it later and it had come back up to 160 so she felt better.  She convinced herself to not be overly anxious.  Even that night when she could not find a heartbeat, she went to sleep choosing to believe that the baby had just moved into a position where it was hard to find.  But the next morning when she could not find it she called the doctor and they said to come on in.

When I see it is one of my kids calling, I always answer in one of three silly ways.  I either say a long drawn out “Dude” or “Vern” or “Hey Baby” or something equally goofy.  Always though, as soon as one of those things leave my mouth, for just a split second, I think what if this is not a happy call.  Sure enough, this time my worry proved correct.  A sobbing Stacie told me that she was going to have to go to the hospital and deliver a dead baby girl.  A girl, just what we were all hoping for.  A little sister for two-year old Kamree.  What can a mother say to something like that?  There are no words, all I could do was cry with her and beg God to hold her close.  Stacie was pregnant along with two of my other daughters, Kristi and Karen.  They were all due within a month of each other.  Now the other two have to go on without their sister, knowing that their growing stomach’s will be a source of pain as Stacie has to bury her dream of another child and watch the other two dreams come true.

We buried little Cara Grace, our 18th grandbaby on Tuesday afternoon.  We released seventeen balloons, into a beautiful blue sky, representing her cousins saying hello/goodbye to her.  I cannot believe how much that baby whom we never knew, who never took a breath has touched our lives.  She has changed me in a profound way and I know the journey has only just begun.

The Trouble With Big Extended Families Who Love You!


Our oldest granddaughter, fifteen year old Lexi, experienced a milestone this past weekend.  She attended her first prom.  It also happened to be her very first date.  All day was spent getting her hair fixed and make-up just right.  Everything was perfect, until her two uncles drove in just in time for pictures.  Of course these weren’t just any Uncle’s, these were the Uncle’s who had told her from the time she was three years old that any boy who desired to date her would have to come through them!  And one of them is a crazy guy, who looks like he belongs on Duck Dynasty and takes his over-protectionism of her to an embarrassing whole new level!  When she saw them head her way she started protesting, telling them to stop, go away, she was going to cry, and worriedly looking down her long drive, hoping beyond hope that her date would be late.  Her protests reached a whole new peak when Crazy Uncle reached into the back seat of his car and pulled out two large hatchets.  He and his brother walked over to where Lexi and her Dad were taking pictures, handed a hatchet to her Dad and got into place beside her.  She was one worried little Miss.  Us women watching the picture-taking, were all a little worried that the tears might actually start flowing and her Prom-perfect makeup would be ruined.  We did our best to assure her, that when she was grown up, these would be her favorite Prom pictures of all times.  It didn’t take near that long.  When she realized they were only giving her a hard time and saw them willingly go in the house before the poor date arrived, she calmed right down and her smile came back.  And even though she doesn’t admit it out loud, I think she kind of likes the picture of her big bad protectors surrounding her in her very first Prom Dress!