Winter’s Acceptance

There is a fresh skiff of our first snow on the yard. And it feels like officially winter. I know there is still a week or so till it’s official, but who’s a stickler on dates when it’s clearly weathering winter out there? As much as I want to just go bask in the sun, see green leaves and growing things- winters found me and I might as well enjoy it. November in Quesnel BC has got to be one of our less sunnier months. We have incredibly green lush springs and summers, vibrant autumns, and sunny crisp white winters that, well, November’s muddy browns and greys feels noticeably lacking. I feel itchy. In deep need of beauty.

I long for the beauty the snow brings. And the light. Even though it’s nearly pitch black at 5:30pm around here, a bit of snow on the edges of the roads really helps it lighten up. It’s kinda like when your bowling and they light up the bumper lanes… ya know?

In anticipation we prepared the yard for its whitening blanket. Stowing away the toys, hunting down a missing helmet, and tucking away yard things so the yard isn’t littered with treasures come spring. No guarantees tho. Last year we had all the shovels found and accounted for by the first snow fall. Then a month in and the kids left two shovels out while playing, and it snowed a foot. I waded about the yard making tracks in the snow back and forth the next day but to no avail, we never found them till the melt.

Is this the changing of guards? Snow to stay? Or… is this the beginning of the kids rehearsing with their snow gear?

The thing is- if I look too far ahead and fixate on spring, I won’t make it. If I worry over the quantity of winter here, I won’t make it either. I just have to accept each day. Look forward to all the treats that only this season can give. Look for beauty. Not just in nature, but in people, and special times too. I love that I can trust that God’s gonna bring spring in just the right timing. He always does. And He will fill my cozy winter days with snow adventures, skating, books, fires, friendships, naps, scrumptious things for my belly, and time to craft. Because winters a gift. And it’s not going anywhere, so I might as well see it as one. And wishing it away will only make me miss out on all God has got planned for this season. I feel like wherever there is hope, there is discontent lurking on the side lines. And the choice between the two is ours.

I need to stop telling people I’m not ready for winter,

And break out my snow pants.

Dinners of Shame

We’ve all had those days where we remember were the one in charge of feeding the small helpless people of our home. That their lives require a dinner. That it can be prolonged no further.

I hear the beeper on the oven go off, and am hopeful for a minute… till I remember it’s cake. This may be just me… but I have no problem thinking of deserts, which usually happens (totally inconveniently) around dinner time. I can’t in good conscience FEED desert as dinner, so I find my self fumbling through the freezer and fridge looking for food.

The way my mind works once in this state of “What’s for dinner panic” differs, but I’ll use tonight as an example.

The freezer let’s me down. There really isn’t any good meat that I could possibly defrost in time for dinner. Hmmm… maybe some starchy filling veggies. I remember something. Lame! I was at the wrong store for potatoes ( if I’m gonna pay nearly $8 a bag they better be from Canada)… ooo what is this…. a sweet potato. K, that goes good with carrots and zucchini. A little chopping, little oil, dash of this and that. Nice! the oven is still warm from cake 😁

Into the oven.

I glance at the counter and see I also dragged out some corn on the cob I’d forgotten about. Yes. You can be cooked. Drat you’re still not meat. I examine frozen bags of random meat. Re entertaining the freezer is like going back down the isles of the grocery store. You know full well they don’t have what your looking for, but you darn well gotta find SOMETHING as a substitute. Some how I settle on 4 burger patties left over from a camping trip. I verbally thank the Lord for the presence of all my fingers- still intact- after the separation of all four said frozen patties. They were met with a large kitchen knife where they skidded and danced across the counter top before joining the roasting veggies in the oven.

I was able to put aside my dinner dilemma and phone my best friend. We laugh and chatted and talked about how it’s about that time of year when we should actually start making dinners. We hang up and somehow, this time, I don’t burn dinner. ( I recently had a whole pot of rice boil over so bad the pot was bobbing on an ocean of rice water while the stir fry was attempting making burnt rice paper. I’d gotten carried away in the garden.)

Back at the oven I decide its time to throw corn in the pot of boiling water.

I peek in the oven to see how the burger patties are doin.

Then bam. I look up to this.

How did those dogs get in there?

This is what results of multiple re visits to the freezer, the pickings get increasingly slimmer. But look- meat!

My daughter came into the kitchen to ask what’s for dinner as I pressed frozen wieners further into the water. “Wow, are those boiled hotdogs? Never had those before!” (Oh child but you have…) I shoo her aside and pull out the sizzling patties. Her brow creases, “Why are there burgers? ”

There is a moment of confusion. She tallies up the odd things she sees.

” Corn, veggies, boiled hotdogs and burgers…… well I like all those things!”

And we all live on-

fed for another day.

The side of me that wants to greatly impress you all with my clever cooking is dying as I write this. Because occasionally wonders emerge from my oven. But I think that’s just it. We all have days of brilliance where we wish someone besides the kids could see what we’ve done!

And… (flip side)

we all have those perfectly “interesting” days where we’re glad only the kids have seen what we’ve done.

Besides, dinner panic awakens our problem solving, quick thinking, survival skills. And everyone knows the great importance in those.

So cast aside shame when you throw food at the kids that isn’t what you hopped it would be. Just pray over that dinner,

dig in,

And don’t worry- other side of you will rise again. 😉

(Wait, 🤔 the cake had zucchini in it… it totally would have been an acceptable dinner! Ah well, there’s always breakfast.)

Run!

I don’t peticularly love running, or anything. But I do feel strongly that it is one of those things your body should not forget how to do. Meaning, I need to remind my body that it CAN run.

Ways to achieve this without “going for a run”:

Run to check the mail.

Forget something on your list, then run through the store before all your items are scanned at the checkout and people start spitting at you.

Give your kids squirt guns.

Put your toddler on a bike and point him down a hill.

Climb tall hills and remember you have dinner in the oven- run home.

Race the kids to the driveway.

Run for shelter in a storm.

Run after your spouse/ child with their forgotten lunch.

Never walk up your stairs, always jog.

Play tag at the park.

Be late.

There’s others, but you get the gist.

Don’t confuse these ways with WHY you need to know how to run. I’m getting to that.

If movies have taught us anything, we all know it’s the person at the back of the pack (the one that can’t run) that dies.

Let’s do a quick memory refresher incase you haven’t watched many films as of late.

Reasons to be sure you know how to run:

The big wave. That scene where the people all stand up at the beach holding their hands shielding their eyes looking at the massive wall of water in the distance. Then comes the yell, “RUN!” Sand is kicked up, people are screaming, umbrellas are being thrown into the air, and the water wall blocks out the sun. You better know how to run. Grab a kid or two and put your practice into action.

Or Dinosaurs. Why people in those movies feel safe with them in massive cages is beyond me. They always get out. And they always eat that dispensable character… who usually sucks at… you guessed it… running.

A great deal of time was once spent watching The Walking Dead. Do I recommend this? No, probably not. I fully blame my husband, and the catchy plot. But I still feel nervous when I see cars lined up in big lines in the summer with their belongings strapped here and there. I start thinking of exits. I start thinking zombies. Everyone knows if your unable to run, you’re zombie food, then… we’ll… a zombie- who can only ever walk fast. So yes, RUNNING is more important than speed walking. It’s life or death… and then a life of death stuck walking. So just work on that run.

“BOMB!” Is always closely followed by “RUN!” If you value limbs, which I do, you best know how to move it at a moments notice.

Wolves. There is a movie “The Grey” I unrecommend. But if you’ve seen it; well you don’t wanna be the weak runner at the back. With any predators for that matter.

Volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, fires, birds chasing you from the sky (Alfred Hitchcock), alien abductions (Alien series, X Files…), invasions, massive man eating worms that swallow you whole (Tremor videos), burning meteors, galloping bandits… oh the examples are endless!

But seriously, haven’t you found yourself on the edge of your seat begging that character to run faster?

And the danger always comes unexpectedly. You could start workin on your run ya know.

Something worth considering, just sayin.

Well, if the only thing I’ve convinced you of in all this- is the indeedly strange things I ponder and prepare for, or the odd movies I’ve seen- then here’s a practical reason to know how to run,

“Mom, I gotta go poop NOW!”

Summer Lessons

Summer is in full swing as we have been off school since the beginning of June. That’s cause we homeschool and I can entice the children to buckle down and finish so that they can be gloriously free for 3 months.

Burn the workbooks!

Turns out they don’t love freedom as much as I thought they would, and really struggled with the lack of structure to their day. I honestly have thought on more than on occasion that teaching them school is less work then sorting out their summer squabbles. But like learning to homeschool, I’m just learning how to run this summer ship and am not as experienced at it as I thought.

I really thought the kids would just play outside happily for endless hours and I have to drag their little butts in just to feed them and put them to bed. Like school day afternoons were, only now they get ALL DAY. Only turns out they are like this for only half a day and the rest of it they are sick of each other and of each others games.

Going out for half the day really helps. And summer chores. What are your favorite boredom busters for kids age 4-10? Active ones…. I have to force my kids to STOP reading and go play 😂

On a side note, these are some of the lessons and things I’ve been learning this summer:

  • 4 years is probably a bit long to leave cleaning the dangling kitchen lights.
  • Vacuuming is more entertaining with Ranger Si popping out from behind the couch with binoculars.

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  • Veggies on the grill or baked in the oven are sweet and irresistible.
  • My neighbor friend who lets the kids ALL come play for hours is irreplaceable and is sweet mercy from heaven above- God bless that woman.
  • Turns out I’m not as bad at drawing as I thought I was, I just need to take sometime.
  • Pork Tenderloins on the BBQ are mouthwatering.
  • Jonas and Sammy are running around these days with knives slung on their belt loops, multi purpose jack knives in their pockets and lighters… but they also carry their own safety kits… and I’m good with it.
  • The bat population has been threatened by White Nose Syndrome (white fungus) so….. there is a possibility we will all die by mosquitoes.
  • Elise and Jonas are now better at making pancakes and salads than me.
  • My rooster, Captain Tom, could eat me for breakfast.
  • My husbands incredible patience teaching the kids to fish tugs at my heart in so many places.

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  • Go camping with your mom, and you will hardly need to pack a thing.
  • Babies eventually turn four, but they still give cuddles and hugs.
  • I can still pull myself up onto a floating object from out of the water, and am somewhat tricky to remove from said object… keep trying kids.
  • Red is a fabulous toenail colour and this summer is no different then the rest in knowing Red is the best.
  • If I ran uphill to the outhouse every time I or Si had to go to the washroom EVERYDAY I would have a lean bod. (Theory was tested for a few short days at the cabin) ((I say bod instead of body because it sounds so cool- and my kids probably think it’s a word now….))
  • An empty fridge stresses me… but so does a really full fridge.
  • Jesus loves me a whole crazy lot- but I gotta choose to believe it and live like I do.
  • Si just turned four and plays his drums everyday. So I roughly have 5,110 days of listening to it left…. unless he’s still at home at 18.
  • Mushrooms can grow bigger than your head.

Well thanks for listening to my rambles, hope your having a fantastic summer, and don’t forget to leave me with your boredom busters… or summer dinners, could totally use those too 😜

An Age of Beauty

This may surprise you. But I have been chosen many-a-time as the subject for portraits. I think it’s my daringly romantic life style. No perhaps my authentic charm? I clearly cannot be the judge in the matter, I fear my pride may be more outspoken than my humble imperturbable self.

But I say, let the art speak for me.

Upon hearing I, their star subject, was nearing a new age (er…hem, my birthday) I found myself (yet again) attracting fine Artists in the area.

The first portrait shows not only my exquisite choice in clothing and fashionable hair accessories, but my athletic abilities as well. Specificity my balance and natural climbing dexterity.

You will notice how the above artist portrayed my hair. It’s actually quite a common occurrence that artists relish in my roof top straight cocoa hair.

Look here

And here

Do I lie? Also here…

I think I’m most often penciled in my triangular wardrobe. It brings out my figure.

Although one artist choose to draw attention to my other superb fashion choice- my shoes. And so for clarity and accentuate-ability they forgo my clothing in order to draw the viewers eyes to my feet… and my shoe like nose.

This was titled “Wearing Shoes to the Garden” with my son also wearing… shoes. I think this one shows an aspect of true living, in that my morning hair has perhaps a bit less of its normal peak.

But I’m not drawn only for my famed beauty. I’m also quite a sight to behold in action (Were you even surprised?).

You may have difficulties spotting me as battle tactics required me to use caution in standing out from my fellow comrades. Allow my acclaimed hand at a canon and renowned aim be your clue.

And so dear reader, I leave it to you to be the judge as to the WHY of my appearance in so many Art pieces.

But I find myself truly honoured, to be so loved that I am drawn, that I’m quite unaffected by your opinion.

I write this to you, the evening of my birthday were upon I find my self so incredibly blessed.

Artists, Elise D, Samuel D, Silas D, Jonas D, Pearl C.

To the Cabin

The kids and I drove out last minute, after an appointment, right around dinner time, to meet my parents at our recently purchased family cabin. Only to stay one night and drive home the next evening. We concluded some time was better than none at all.

There was so much forest, as we drove deeper into it you could feel the worlds social grip sliding away. At the cabin there was no running water or electricity- which is deliciously rustic, and puts outdated candles in their glory. Wax dripping over the edge of bottles and candle light flickering on the wall. A lantern hanging over the kitchen table that we all played a game of dominoes under in its light. We were cozy and warm with the little pot belly stove burning bright in the middle of the main room. So warm we cracked open the porch door, and took turns dancing on the deck putting on a good show for the kitchen onlookers. The wind howled and it poured rain that night. Our only night. But we were as warm as toast, the boys even threw off their pj shirts and squirmed excitedly in the bunks. And I loved sleeping next to a fire.

The next day was full of simple adventures that were beautiful and relaxing. A burn pile, discoveries, walks, lunch on the dock, and naps. The kids adored the time with their Grandparents. So even tho it was quite a bit of driving for one night and one day- that in its self was completely worth it.

The lake was still frozen, but it’s shores roared with vibrant green coniferous trees, and the sun beat down. I could picture summer. I could hear the kids jumping off the dock and floating about in inner-tubes. I settled in my mind to try to swim the lake to the other side. Standing there with dreams of summer, I felt peace. Tinged with excitement for the days to come. I found the forest and vast spaces of the wilderness and lake gave me perspective. Sometimes I get caught up in all the conversations of life, the worries of friends, and all the things I’m trying to do. But then I get away, even for a day, where it’s so quite the groans and creaks of the bony old trees fill the woods with sound. Where everything is coming back alive after seemingly dead all winter. And I remember how powerful my God of hope is. How the caretaker of the wood and water thawing and coming to life is- GOOD. That his love for us is vast, wide and deep. More so than the heights of the treed mountains or the depths of the cool lakes floor.

He’s got this.

Everything.

Life.

Lets rest in his capable care, and open our eyes to all the good things He’s doing. And even if it’s only an hour, (doesn’t have to be a day away!) maybe you can find some woods and get a fresh perspective.

Addicted to Homemade

I realized this morning (as I made two different pie fillings from scratch) what a struggle it is for me to get away from making things myself and to just buy it.

When I decide “I’m going to save myself the work this time and just buy the thing already made”, it somehow is never quite that straight forward. First of all, I have the homemade version coursing out of my taste buds and burning in my mind, so nothing on the store shelf looks, well, like it should. I start reading labels.

Note: If you are trying to make a transition from homemade to store bought NEVER read the labels!

But it can’t be helped. I’m already thinking things like how is there this much crap in here? I make this with like 4 ingredients. I could easily make this with half that amount of sugar! And what even is Acetylated Monoglycerides?

I’m drifting dangerously close to resolving to just go home and make it. I give my head a shake and scan the price of the item I’m holding. It burns me like a hot potato and I nearly drop it on the floor. What?! I could definitely make this for less… and my mind starts calculating the cost of real ingredients. Stop it! Your doing it!

And just like that, I’ve ditched the notion of buying the pre-made product and am I’m off buying the one or two ingredients I don’t already own at home. Feeling pretty stinking satisfied with myself that I’m not only going to be saving my family from evil 14 letter ingredients, but a few bucks as well. Somehow the time it was going to save me by purchasing it already made slips from my brain and is replaced with my familiar friend

Thrifty.

Closely related to Homemade.

But every now and then I survive all those steps, and just close my eyes and grasp what I need off the shelf. I try to numb the knowledge of the ingredients and prices by making it a quick grab and move right along.

This happened yesterday at the grocery store.

I’m making homemade danishes for an charity auction, and I really don’t need to make 3 pie fillings from scratch for their centres. I don’t love constant stirring over the stove, it’s too unimaginative.

Problem is- I must have literally had my eyes closed because when I got out the fillings last night it was followed by a groan. Both of the boxes not only needed things like separated eggs and milk (am I paying $4.99 for cornstarch and flavouring?), but they also came with long detailed time consuming instructions. With lots of stirring over the stove🙄! My eyes then spotted a coconut on my vanilla filling, and slid over to the products name. Coconut Pie filling. “Nooooooo!” Well, at least I have a lemon one. So why is their a lime on that box? Yep, Key Lime Pie. My husbands flipping the boxes around at the counter with a smirk and cheeky sparkle in his eye, “didn’t you even READ? It says the name right on the box…. Both of them.”

I snatch the boxes from him and mumble about them being in the vanilla section with all the other vanillas and the lime one right next to the lemon ones. And suddenly freak out wondering what on earth my canned “cherry” filling actually is. After unloading half my cupboard I’m convinced I never even put it in the cart, when I finally find it next to the beans. Thank God, It’s Cherry.

I need the other two fillings today.

So you see, even when I try to just buy pre-made, I’m busy making homemade. Because driving into town with 4 kids sounds like more work then sitting at the stove stirring (which apparently I’d be doing anyways).

Driving to get something I forgot or because I got the wrong thing is OFTEN my reason for discovering how to make something homemade and save myself a trip. (One year amid making homemade gingerbread houses, we ran right out of icing sugar to make icing, and it turns out icing sugar is just blended white sugar with cornstarch!)

And guess what?

I made lemon and blueberry filling in about an unfocused half hour and they were cheap and simple 😊

and so now

I’ll probably always have to make pie fillings, because of all above said reasons.

And they turned out pretty tasty too.

Some of the Things We Love Better Homemade:

  • Bread (for the most most part. Best dollar I’ve ever spent was my breadmaker at a thrift store. Fresh focaccia for about 10 mins of effort? Yes please.)
  • Jam (so easy to throw a little fruit in a pot- my kids even make it! We use chia seeds to thicken and only a couple Tbs sugar)
  • Muffins (we love extra fruit ones)
  • Lasagna (the more you make it the more efficient you get)
  • Cookies, cakes, pies, squares, pancakes (I do love baking, and it doesn’t have an after taste baked with pronounceable ingredients)
  • Cheese sauce ( 100s of dinners thank me for learning this)
  • Granola (not all recipes are the same, some are fantastically easy)
  • Pita pockets (entertainment for the kids, and soft and STRETCHY… not dry and crummy)
  • Dried fruit (ALWAYS better. Why are the stores coated in sugar!?)
  • Puddings and custards (a win for cornstarch)
  • Apple sauce (purée with the skins for fibre no one knows is there! Instead of sugar add cinnamon for a sweeter flavour)
  • Soup (raised on the stuff- keeping the tradition running strong)
  • Pizza ( breadmaker dough, and what-ever-our-hearts desire toppings. Yes even last nights stir fry)
  • Gravy (just the old fashioned good stuff… or organic bouillon paste)

And more.

Some things truly are easier/ better to just buy. And there is NO comparison to Campbells tomato soup. But what are some things you simply love homemade and can’t go back to bought? Do you also love some of my above list?

Blessings! And happy food making.

All About… Beans?

I buy beans, in dried form, in large bags. It’s one of those tricks you learn when you have a lot of kids and try to make food go a little further. It made me feel pretty super cooking my own beans.

If you follow the simple directions on the back of the package, your winning and things are simple and straight forward. Problem is- your suppose to soak those beans all night.

There’s really isn’t anything complicated about that. Beans, pot, LID (made that mistake once) and a lot of water (as they’re thirsty, dried up little buggers).

Except that I usually forget come night. I’m usually winding down from my shift of… using my brain.

My beans might sit dried in their store bought bags for a month as I nightly forget to soak them.

Turns out, there is a remedy to this problem. You just cook them oh-so-long and no one knows the difference.

K, well, except all who enter your home that day.

It’s like the fart that just wont quit. The kids keep entering the kitchen starting the question, “who let one?!….. oh, never mind…. BEANS.”

Yep.

Today Elise asked me if there wasn’t a perfume spray or something we could use.

I probably smelled like an armpit when I dropped and picked her up from her gymnastics class.

As well as forgetfulness, I often struggle with another problem that seems to arise whilst cooking beans. Its my Efficiency Expert Training. Or at least that’s what I call it on good days when it works well for me. Other days, like today, it appears in the form of Lazy Mans Poor Choice Shortcuts.

Have you ever read Cheaper by the Dozen? Well if you haven’t its a true story of a family with 12 kids. The Father has a JOB as an Efficiency Expert. He goes into businesses and helps them cut out useless tasks, and do things in an order that will help their business be more cost effective and efficient. Get stuff done, for less money and time. He also applies may of his skills at home with his dozen kids.

Sounding good eh?

My Mother was an Efficiency Expert. She did things like wash an army of muddy garden carrots in the washing machine. Or make a funnel out her window that went straight into her compost bin. She never sorted the cutlery, but stored it all face up in a vase so you knew what weapon your grabbing.

So I come by it honestly.

Some days it’s gloriously inventive. Impresses the socks of my impatient self. Others it’s darn right lazy and disastrous. And ends up being MORE work.

Right. Beans.

If you take the time to get out your colander, you just dump the cooked beans and boiling water into the colander in the sink. Or you scratch that step, grab your pot with large oven mitts, tilt it over the sink and pour your liquid through the perfect size slot you made by slightly sliding the lid ajar.

Then as your kid starts your vehicle for you so you can take her to gymnastics- you’ve got two minutes or you’re gonna be late. Suddenly you find yourself scooping an entire pot worth of beans out of your lunch dishes and the sink. Stupid oven mitts! Stupid sliding Not-So-Perfect crack! You draw a crowd of worried onlookers (teaching kids life lessons here) and focus on the fact everything was submerged in boiling water and is probably totally edible after a good rinse…. in the colander.

Why do I always feel like I accepted defeat when I use the colander? It feels like…… I lost and had to get a parent to come help me… sheesh maybe I need kitchen therapy.

Once your beautiful beans are cooked. Reserve what you need for the recipe (that I most likely am not going to follow, ) and then dump them on a cookie tray to freeze. They will break apart easily and can be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer and poured into any other meals as you need them later.

No don’t just freeze them from warm in a bag.

Hammering the frozen bean cluster against the counter top only draws a crowd (kids again wondering what on earth your doing) and rips the bag in more ways you thought possible. Nobody can eat THAT many beans at once. So just take my word for it.

Freeze on a flat tray and transfer. Expert speaking here.

I hope this doesn’t make you NOT want to try cooking your own beans! Honestly they are a fantastic fiber, protein… or um whatever healthy thing they are. And you can cook so many more things with them on hand. Makes chilli a heck of a lot cheaper too.

To win you back, incase I chased you away from the idea,

Here is what I’m making for dinner tonight.

Of course I don’t really follow the recipe- but it’s nice to have a starting point. I make my own seasoning, add cilantro to everything I can, 2 extra cups of beans (I have them, I might as well put them to use) and just use marble cheese that I go ahead and shred myself.

Some how I wrote a whole post on beans.

Since I have them on hand, what’s your favourite bean dish? Or just one that fills the spot, isn’t too time consuming, and has a max of two dirty pots?

Yours truly,

Efficiency Expert (in Training )

Tracks

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We’d just finished a “Containers of Leftovers” buffet and were amid the kayos of trying to do the morning chores (that were abandoned for leaving for church early), unloading the groceries, cleaning up the lunch, finding the coat room, and as always putting those sneaky toys back where they belong. When Sam popped in from outside and asked, “you guys wanna go to Claymine?”

Aka snow wheeling through a pass near our place.

Somehow, like a puzzle- beginning in grand disorder but piece by piece transforming into a picture- the house returned (mostly) to the home we all know and love. The kids all had two mitts, matching boots and snow gear relatively fastened, and were loaded into the Toyota. I had time to grab a mug of tea, and joined them.

Turns out we had beat the family we were meeting, so we drove out to meet them at the pass itself. Parked at the start, we were just in time to see the golden sun sinking behind the horizon. I hopped out into the foot deep snow, tried to catch a couple shots of it’s disappearing glory with my canon, and breathed in the sharp winter air. The sun’s glow lit up the trees just right, and with the little snow drifts tucked near their feet- the forest looked friendly.

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I climbed back in the cab. The old rattle trap truck hummed and shook two kids asleep. Sam’s travel mug that rested in the curve of his steering wheel spun from the trucks vibrations, and the stick shifts numbers and letters blurred as they danced about in idle. My three year old breathed softly, asleep, cuddled against me.

And all 6 of us just sat. Together.

Our friends ended up coming and we enjoyed venturing (further than planned) with them. Even got out and rolled about in the snow with all the kids.

Back in the truck, we laughed at the chattering coming from our youngest

“There’s baby bearses in the fields”,

“I’ll tell you when I see the horses tiny feets in the snow, OK Dad?”

We kept a look out for tracks. We tried to guess the animals from their unique prints left in the perfect canvas of fresh snow. And laughed when the “probably a cow” tracks clearly WEREN’T- As they had started bounding.

As we bumped along together through a tangle of forest on a white fluffy carpet rolled out before us. I felt so wonderfully content. I reached over and squeezed Sam’s hand.

Then suddenly I found myself reflecting on something profound I had heard earlier that morning. That I had never heard before. From someone wise and has 43 some-odd-years of marriage under her belt.

That quality couple time for some couples can just be

Time together. Without even talking.

I realized sometimes I try to fit our relationship in with what I hear your supposed to do to have a great marriage. With what works for other marriages.

But what this lady said was SO true for us. But I’d never heard was ok. Cause were not that “long walks and heart to heart talks” couple.

And I got thinking. Just as every person is different, so is every marriage. And so are the ways we show our love. Looking for love in a way it isn’t shown is frustrating and leaves hurt. But looking for loves footsteps, finding its tracks, recognizing its patterns- takes

time

and isn’t going to look like other people’s…

But it’s there. So beautifully there. And when not bombarded by the worlds comparisons-

You wouldn’t choose it any other way.

It can be easy to slip into wondering why your spouse doesn’t do what so and so’s does, and allow the question “does that mean they don’t love me as much?” slide to mind.

But ACK! Don’t.

Instead search for loves tracks, they’re probably in places you haven’t been looking. They might not be words, but actions. Or choices, or helps. Perhaps a look or touch. Maybe even a correction or a shove in a tricky direction. Sometimes maybe you hear it, sometimes maybe you see it, sometimes maybe you feel it, and other times you just need to know it. Remind yourself.

And while your looking for loves tracks on the canvas of a life together- leave some behind.

Small Town Rednecks

We were invited by friends to go see some fireworks Saturday night. There was an add with a little picture of stacked unlit firecrackers in a row, and a small blurb about the MacLeese fire department putting it on.

NOTHING led on to what we were about to see.

As we drove what turned out to be an hour out of town, I even wondered if these little town fireworks would be worth the drive.

Then from the dark stretch of highway we saw a line of vehicles pulling off onto a little dirt road. We followed. The road literally took us into what felt like the middle of no where. When the dust of all the cars we followed cleared, we saw what looked like a snake of vehicles heading to a lit bridge. Or so we thought. As we drew near we saw it was no bridge, but a road made of beacons, torches with flames leaping from them set out in a field. A firefighter with a boot for donations told us to be sure to park and get out to the fire pits “for the full experience.”

Crossing through harvested corn we reached a large crowd of people. The night was cat black and held a suspenseful slight breeze. I grew excited as I saw the size of the fire pits groups of people were standing around. This is crazy! I thought. But boy oh boy- I hadn’t seen anything yet.

With some loud cracks the fireworks began.

But then the cracks came from behind us. I whirled around as more came from my other side. Fireworks lit the sky in explosions- they were flying over head! We were surrounded! Through burst of light we could see people circling us in the field. We roared with excitement.

Then shouts and cheers alert us of a guy on the hill. He’s dousing a burning trail with gasoline. Big circles of golden flames burn in the grass… but he keeps walking closer. Not to us, but to a boat parked ontop of the hill. It’s filled with cardboard boxes. Like Santa’s water sleigh. The flames reach the boat, billowing and swelling, reaching for the trees. Everyone around us is simply ecstatic. I feel like a kid that sees their first crash- to- pass. I can’t stop saying what I’m seeing, “did you see that!?” As though everyone around me wasn’t watching the same thing. Then fireworks exploded from the boat and people behind it start having a war with Roman candles.

It’s pure madness.

How is this even allowed? My cheeks ached with all their grinning. And every time we thought it was over

it would start up again.

Then it grew quiet. But it was like that grand moment of suspense before the crescendo of the finale. Fingers began to point. “Look!”

Like the Trojan horse of the Romans there stood a massive towering statue of boxes. He was the height of a two story building looming in the darkness.

The BOX MAN.

“He’s like a robot!” One of my kids breathed.

“They’re lighting him on fire!”

Burning boxes broke off the statue and fell to the ground like chunks of a volcano.

The kids giggled as it looked like he was left in only his underwear.

With a sudden BANG! The Box Mans hands shot forth spears of light.

“He’s shooting lasers!” The boys shouted over the roaring crowds.

Then it was done. The Box Man’s head still burned and the boxes at his feet. We all talked at once. Awed and thrilled by the spectacular experience.

Like the short circuits in a real robot, random fireworks wizzed sporadically from the box mans can head, and we could only guess there were some crackers buried in the tin of wax. The crowds began to pull away. With a few last glances, we headed towards the vehicles, where a snaking train of lights formed from vehicles winding their way back out.

Out from this place,

where guys dreams are a reality,

And somehow allowed to take place.

The kids excitedly talked in the back seat claiming the could have watched the show till morning and never even feel the least bit tired. “Box Man” and “boat” rolled off their lips… and then only the sound of tires on pavement could be heard.

I squeezed Sams hand, “guess they’re all asleep.” And we drove home.