Monday, December 30, 2013

Trans- Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Eve Sarajevo

Christmas Day entertainment from Mitchell! :-) To his credit he isn't thrilled that I would post this as he insists it is not performance ready but Momma trumped on this one. :-) Aunt Susie and Grandma Hixon... this is for you!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Three Years

Absent …. from the body, my sweet Gigi is present with her Lord and Savior. Three years ago today, at 5:30 in the morning, surrounded by family, and hand in hand with the man she had faithfully loved for 64 years, my dear Gigi stepped into eternity. Her faith became sight, she sorrowed no more.

I will say again what I said when I marked 2 years and will probably think for years to come.  In some ways these 3 years have gone so quickly and at other times the moments have seemed to drag.  I cannot imagine what these last years have been like for my Gigi. In Heaven with all its splendor, glory, and beauty and being face to face with her Savior; I can hardly wrap my mind around it.   Three years in Heaven is not even a dot on the page in the book of eternity.  To see the physical realities of the faith you treasured, what an amazing hope we have in Christ. 
I miss having Gigi in the kitchen with me.  Over the years she taught me to cook.  She was the consummate hostess and passed on to me her desire to show love through food. I miss having her living example, but will always have the legacy, of how she selflessly loved her husband.  I miss how Gigi cried every time she spoke of her daddy.  He died when she was 14. I miss the sounds and smells of them living in our home.  I miss sharing Christmas with them.  The hard part is living with the familiarity of what once was.  We are still here, in this home we shared with them, and while many things are much the same they are so very, very different.  I miss seeing both Gigi and Papa with our children; they each took so much joy and delight in the lives of those around them.    I loved watching Chad and the kids help them both to the table for dinner.  I miss having every one of our dining chairs full. 
Once again, we will have Top Ramen and Garlic English Muffins tonight for dinner.  A funny memorial dinner isn’t it? Definitely not because that was all she could cook … no way!  She was an amazing cook!  We really could be having Stuffed Mushrooms, homemade pasta, Italian Chicken or steak and spaghetti with oil and vinegar salad, Manicotti or one of my favorite birthday dinners she used to make me as an adult …. Calzones!  She was a masterful cook.  No, we are having Top Ramen and Garlic English Muffins because that is what the children remember most that she made for Papa and for them.  The years they lived with us she didn’t cook much at all but Papa loved Top Ramen and Garlic English Muffins, and she loved Papa, so she made him those as often as she could in the early years of living with us.  Mitchell and Isabelle especially have memories of slipping next door to the trailer and joining Papa and Gigi for a lunch of Top Ramen and Garlic English Muffins.  Silly dinner I know, but it fits the memories and gives us a little part of Gigi for the day.
 Last year I was still having a hard time looking at their photos.  Recently, for the first time since her memorial service, I was able to watch the slideshow we played at her service.  I thought I would share it again.  I love the photos and memories associated with them and I love, love, love the music it plays to.  Tennessee Ernie Ford singing the old Hymns was a favorite of Papa and Gigi’s.  We played those CD’s for them for days on end, literally for months.  William and JD still love the CD’s and they are part of what they listen to every night as they are drifting off to sleep.  Every song brings a flood of memories for me.  As Tennessee sings those beautiful words, I can see them and what our lives were together.  Bittersweet memories I will treasure forever. 



Thursday, October 24, 2013

Summer Birthdays....Better Late than Never

Summer has come and gone and so have a couple of our family birthdays!  Don’t ask why I am so late in posting these, because I really don’t know how they got away from me!  

Mitchell turned 17 and we celebrated with a family dinner of his choice…. Pulled Pork Sandwiches, some sides I honestly can’t remember now, and homemade Moo-wiches! Mitchell is fast becoming a man and my momma’s heart is beginning to feel the reality of the fact that this maturity will inevitably come quicker than we can imagine.  Oh the tension of wanting to see him grow and holding onto that little boy I used to snuggle so often. He is a senior in HS this year and enjoying his second year in the Running Start program at our local Tech College.  He still greatly enjoys being a Police Explorer and we are so proud of him as he won the TOP Selections Cadet at his last Explorer Academy this summer. He continues to LOVE his piano and is working hard in anticipation of his Senior Recital in the spring and he has a great job at a local diesel shop.  Our prayer for Mitchell is that his heart will always remain tender to the ways and workings of the Lord in his life. We are so proud of him and look forward to seeing what God will do in his life and where he will lead him!

We acquired a second teenager in the house this summer!  The teenage girl aspect is certainly new to us but we have greatly enjoyed it! She is still a sweet little girl in so many ways but it has been a joy to begin to see a true young lady blossom inside of her.  Thirteen is a big deal and of course it called for a party.  She had a blast with a few of her dear friends and made some precious memories. She is in 8th grade this year and while we anticipated that the middle school years could sometimes be hard, we have been blessed and are so thankful for the young ladies in her life.  We look forward to the years to come and to see how God can strengthen them into lifelong friends. The girls played a game where they were paired off and had to apply makeup to their partner while blindfolded.  They laughed, actually we all laughed so hard… it was the best teenage girl game! Our prayer for Isabelle remains the same as Mitchell’s, that her heart will always remain tender to the ways and workings of the Lord.  We are so proud of her and are looking forward to the remaining teen years with her.

Umm.... I am pretty sure Isabelle and Hannah did not place first for proper make up application!  

Actually Danica and Colby didn't do too bad compared to Isabelle and Hannah!

My guess is that Caroline and Payton won!   They did a great job for being blindfolded!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good Morning Papa

It has been 2 years since you entered Heaven. You were first in my thoughts this morning when I woke.  I cannot truly fathom what it must be like for you, how complete your joy must be.  I love you more than words can say.  I still stand in “Papa & Gigi’s” part of the house and see you both there. Sometimes I go where your bed was and just stare, recalling what it was like to bend down and kiss your forehead and remember the smell of your skin.  I miss hearing your voice say, “I love you precious girl” yet I cannot bring myself to play the video I took of you speaking those words to me.  Tonight, in honor of you, we will have steak & eggs.  We will take time around the table to share what we loved about you.  Thank you for being who you were and giving us truly the most precious and excellent example of what a godly husband and father should be.  Thank you for investing in my life, Chad’s life and each one of our children.  I will miss you every day of my life until I see you again.


Thursday, June 13, 2013


Not in pounds but in years...Yesterday we got to celebrate Chad's 40th! We actually celebrated twice for this special birthday, once with a SPAM party last week and then just with our little family last night. Thankfully he did not request SPAM again for last night's dinner. :-)

Chad LOVES SPAM…yikes! In fact did you know there is a SPAM Museum in Minnesota?  Unfortunately Chad has added it to our list of stops for our cross country trip next Fall! J Did you know there are lots of recipe’s and ways to use SPAM??  Last week I made SPAM “cupcakes” and SPAM buns.  The “cupcakes” were simply mini SPAM/hamburger meatloaves with mashed potato “frosting” and SPAM buns is a friend’s recipe and honestly I have to say I could eat the SPAM buns.  The SPAM buns are grated SPAM, Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce (the original recipe calls for ketchup but Chad doesn’t eat ketchup) and garlic salt all mixed together then you top a potato roll with the SPAM mixture and grated cheese then broil them for a couple minutes and WALA … you actually have edible SPAM... it tastes like pulled pork!  For dessert we had Lazy Daisy Cake that Isabelle made and I made a Beer and Bacon Ice Cream Sundae Toffee Sauce that is poured over vanilla ice cream and topped with bacon crumbles, toasted pecans and sea salt!  No worries… all the beer cooks out J It actually turned out quite good, better than I expected!

Last night his dinner of choice was chicken fried steak with country gravy, homemade biscuits and eggs. He finished off the evening with a Bourbon Cherry Rhubarb Pie.  Gee… I think I am starting to see a pattern here with alcohol J… JK... honestly it cooks out and it is just the flavor left! I guess he has no worries about clogging any arteries at this point!  

Hard to believe my precious husband is 40.  We sat around the dining room table last night as the children and myself spoke of all the things we love about Daddy.  His kindness and patience, how he takes the time to teach them, his wrestling and tickle fights, how he is a good example of being a Godly husband and father and much more. It was precious to hear the children speak and a gift all in itself.  I love this man God has given me more than I can rightly express.  I am blessed that he unconditionally loves me, he is patient with my impatience, he is tender, longsuffering, sacrificial and unassuming. He is a special man who gives his all for another and loves his Savior with his whole heart. These years have gone quickly as we have grown up together. I pray the Lord will bless me with the gift of many more years with Chad as I have much to learn from this man. 





Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Recital

Mitchell's end of the year recital was held on Wednesday night and how enjoyable it was!  What we love is that there are so many young men in our church who love to play the piano and they all encourage and challenge one another to excell still more!   

Future Piano Guys??? :-)
The first song Mitchell played was a duet with his friend Tommy. Tommy is an incredible violin player. He and his sister do a Vivaldi piano/violin duet that is outstanding ...I love to hear him play! He kindly agreed to accompany Mitchell on this first one, River Flows in You by Yiruma. River Flows in You is hands down one of my favorite songs Mitchell plays, it is beautiful! It is the song he played solo (no violin) for the Sunday @ 3 concert series at the Jansen Arts Center last Sunday. 


The second song is a different story! He changed his song from another piece to this one on Sunday... yes.... 3 days before the recital! He was originally slated to play his Rachmaninoff piece he has worked on for months...literally months! He has worked so hard on that song with much success but even after hundreds of hours working on it there was still this one part in the middle section of the song he has never been able to master. He realized that as much as he wanted to play that song it would not be without a difficult middle section so he decided to change. His teacher, Mrs. VandenBos is such a gem and wants the students to have fun and was all for him changing his song, even last minute! In fact she said if he changed his mind yet again and wanted to improv when he got up there then go for it! Straight away he began memorizing the second song, Racing Against the Sunset by Phillip Wesley. He altered the song a bit and only played 7 of the 10 pages but did pretty well in quick memorization. It is his pet peeve to bring music up to the piano during a recital as he holds himself to pretty high standards on memorization. This time around though since he had so little time for prep. he was open to the suggestion of bringing up one little part of his sheet music up there. He had just a little bit of the music prior to the key change that he had yet to fully memorize so he decided to take a small folded portion of music up with him. Well, poor guy, it would have been good had he not put the sheet music upside down AND backwards!! He still says he should have stopped, held out his finger as if to say "just a minute".... turned over and right side up his paper and started again with a smile! Needless to say you can catch the errors a bit in the playing but otherwise the second song was great and a memorable evening all together! Hope you enjoy!



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Young Composers Recital

This year Isabelle submitted a song to the Young Composers Contest through her piano teacher.  She worked long and hard on "A Wandering Heart" and placed 3rd in the piano level she is at!  Last month a recital was held by the LMTA for the composers and she got to play.  She was extremely nervous but still excited to play her song. ...we are so proud of her! I am sorry for the sideways video, I didn't think about how the video would play when I turned my camera sideways to take it!


Mitchell's New Ride

Well... Mitchell finally purchased his first vehicle and what an unexpected purchase it was!  Really ?!? ... a 1969 Custom VW Baja Bug that he has aptly named The Green Hornet! While he desired very much to have a lifted truck be his first purchase, at this point gas prices dictated he go for a more gas economical set of wheels.  NEVER in a million years could we have guessed this would be his aquisition! Thanks to a little coaxing from his sister Isabelle to look up VW Bug's on Craigslist...wala..... much fun is had by all! Needless to say he absolutely LOVES it and daddy and momma are happy with the decent fuel economy. Actually I think what I love best is the lack of annonimity he has in this car! Everyone will know where Mitchell is when he drives this beauty..... hahaha. The funniest part has been all the guys in the lifted trucks yelling out their windows as he goes down the road "sic ride man!" or "love the ride dude!" and the plethora of peace/thumbs up/hang loose signs he has gotten in just the few days he has owned the vehicle!  It is a keeper for sure!


A Swimmingly Good Birthday Party

So... only 3 months AFTER their birthday we finally have completed the twins 10th birthday party with friends!  This had to be one of the easiest and truly extremely fun parties we have done to date for any child! It was as simple as swim, swim and swim some more... eat a quick couple fishie cupcakes and had to open presents outside. We utilized every minute we could out of swimming so no time for present opening before the aquatic center closed! It was a bit chilly after being in the pool but Will and Shelley made quick work of the gifts and they all loved it! I am rarely in the photos with the kiddos as I am usually taking them so I was blessed when a momma there thoughtfully suggested a photo of me with the twins...a novel concept ... photos with my children!  :-) I have to get better about that!
We are blessed with a great group of friends for all of our children and I am so thankful for the memories that were made for both William and Shelley. :-)

A Visit and a Concert

This last weekend we got to have Grandma Honey up for a visit! She was here for two-fold reasons.  First, she got to see Mitchell perform a piano piece at a local concert series and the second is that we got to have her here to celebrate her birthday! We always love having her here and this time we also enjoyed seeing photos from her recent trip to Ireland.  It was a grand weekend for sure!


Mothers Day

Mothers Day felt extra sweet this year and in all honesty I can't put a finger on "why".  Chad and the children always work hard to make sure my Mom's day is special every year and this one was no different. I think it must just be a sweet feeling of joy and contentment and my heart was extra full this year.  I recieved some special gifts including something I have wanted for a long time... a 6 QT. Lodge Dutch oven coated in beautiful Red Enamel..... I LOVE it and have made some killer food in there already!  My dinner was exactly what I wanted and oh so good.... Veggie Panini's! I had the veggie one and the others had the veggies with some meat also. :-)  I have loved veggie panini's for a long time and while I would love a Panini maker, it is not practical to have a kitchen tool that only prepares 1 or 2 sandwiches at a time when you have a family of 7.  I realized last year that I can simulate a panini maker by using the grill and something to press down on the sandwiches....hence the sandwiches on the grill and covered with a jelly roll pan and bricks!  It works like a charm, you just have to be sure the grill is on low for sure. 
The deliciousness that was my Mothers Day dinner is pictured below.... pure bliss for me!





We had yet to have surgeries on any children until April of this year and them we had two surgeries 1 week apart! JD had a minor mouth surgery with a tooth extraction and William had a significant eye surgery... a Bilateral Strabismus surgery. Unfortunatly I didn't take any photos of JD after surgery but I did of Will.  Will's surgery was very effective but we won't kow the full extent of the recovery for another 2 months or so.  We were able to see an immediate differene in his eyes of course as the surgery corrected laziness in both eyes and it is amazing to see him look at you with both eyes at the same time!  His biggest hope for success is that he might be able to see in 3D, something he has never been able to do as both eyes did not work together. We will see if his eyes will fully correct over the next couple months to allow 3D vision with glasses! I loved how the other children prepped the house in anticipation of his return.  I was especially touched by the huge amount of time Shelley spent reading to William as he rested.  He really was pampered by the others over the days of his recovery and he loved it!


Moments in March

Isabelle's first batch of cinnamon rolls sans any help from Mom as I was gone at our church's women's retreat. They were declared delicious by all who had them!
Good Morning Birthday Boy!
I don't know how I missed this cutie pie picture in his birthday post...I couldn't resist!

Cowboy Kitchen Crew

Celebrating Ressurection Sunday with our sweet friends the van den Heuvel's and Grandma Kay. 
 It was replete with delicious food, excellent fellowship and good 'ol football!