Kicking off the Season


Last weekend we ventured to Fairview for their annual Christmas lighting. While waiting for the festivities to begin, we walked over the converted train bridge and part way through the tunnel. The tunnel was very dark and Rob waited until we rounded the corner and could no longer see any light from outside before he pulled out the flashlight he had “forgotten’ he had in his pocket.


Once the festival started, we went down for some hot cocoa and treats. The horse-drawn wagon was taking people on rides around the park, and as an added bonus, you could visit with Santa during the ride! He passed out candy canes and encouraged all the kids to clean their rooms.


They had the area lit up nicely so we could all see where we were going. At 7pm, all the lights went out and fireworks were set off from the bridge. It was a nice display and a great way to kick off the holiday season.


Say Cheese!

Okay, so in order for these pictures to make any sense, I have to give you a little background information, none of which seems related, but it will make sense in the end… I think… I hope…

Firstly, I must confess that I usually stress myself out when it comes to picture time. Snapping a shot where all five people are actually looking at the camera with something that resembles a smile on their face, with eyes OPEN, is a miraculous feat. Throw our Tasmanian Devil of a dog into the mix, and, well, good luck.

Secondly, there’s Charbie. As many of you may remember, we adopted Charbs in Knoxville, and, since he hails from Tennessee, we can only assume he is a Titans fan. So we console him when his Titans lose, which, with a record of 2-7, is often. And we cheer for him when they win. You can take the dog out of Tennessee, but apparently you cannot take Tennesse out of the dog, so even though he was adopted by a family of Seahawks fans, he still roots for his Titans, and rightly so.

Thirdly, we decided to wear our team colors for this years holiday card photo. It did not seem fair to make Charbie wear a Hawks jersey, so I set out to find a Titans shirt instead. Problem is that both teams have a very similar color of blue, making it difficult to tell the difference, especially since Charbie’s jersey has the name on the back, where we are looking at his front. So, the challenge was to get Charbie to face backward while looking forward. Like I said earlier, good luck.

This year’s rules were simple: 1.) Do not stress out. 2.) Smile. 3.)Keep looking at the camera no matter what is going on around you. 4.) Smile. 5.) Keep your eyes OPEN. 6.) Smile. 7.) Kindly ask Charbie to look at the camera. (He does not listen.) 8.) Smile. 9.) Do not stress out. 10.) Smile. Oh wait, I am repeating myself, aren’t I? Silly me…

By the time we were finished, we had taken about 15 pictures with the timer. In several of them, someone had their eyes closed, in several more, half of us were not looking. But here is what I learned. Getting Charbs to sit backward while looking forward is impossible. (Who knew, right?) Pictures are much more fun when you just go with it. Perfection does not exist. Patience is priceless. My family is crazy. (I actually already knew that…)

And I still have absolutely no idea what on earth was so funny…







Battle Axle!

Perhaps one of the most exciting (or not) things about owning an older car is that you know eventually something will break, you just never know when or where it will choose to do so. Take, for example, our ignition switch. Our dear, sweet old jeep decided to wait until we were all the way over in West Yellowstone (on vacation!) before it so kindly let us know that we needed a new one. Exciting, right? So when the same dear, sweet old jeep started making horrible noises in her rear end, we braced ourselves for more… excitement. Only, as it turns out, this noise was not a simple repair. So, instead of paying the repair shop a small fortune, we decided to tackle this one ourselves.


For those of you who have never had the pleasure of searching online for a rear axle for an 18 year old car, let me tell you, you are missing out, because that is some fun stuff. We located one at a salvage yard in Spokane, ordered it with our fingers crossed that it was in good shape, paid some freight, and waited for it to arrive. Meanwhile, every time we drove our jeep into town, we were silently chanting please don’t break, please don’t break… Apparently begging your car not to break while petting the steering wheel really does work. Who knew?


The differential didn’t look like much on the outside, but everything on the inside seemed in tip-top shape. Let the repairs begin! Due to a gravel driveway and lack of garage, we had to jack up our jeep on the basketball court. We didn’t get very far the first weekend before we realized they had cut a brake line, so the race was on to find replacement parts. Once we figured out what to do with that little issue, it was too late to start on the axle, so it had to wait until the next weekend.


So last Sunday we spent the entire day outside, tackling an axle. The stress level of this project was actually pretty high. There was the fear that the new axle would not work, or would be broken in one way or another. What if we could not get it back together properly, or broke something else? Not to mention that our car was now missing an important part, so if we needed anything from town (25 miles away…) we had no way to get there.


Luckily, Rob and I work well together, so really, it was sort of like a date day. A really cold, dirty, uncomfortable date day. Okay, maybe not… But things did go relatively smooth. It wasn’t until we were almost finished when I learned that I have super human-strength. How else could you explain the bolt that I snapped in half while trying to get the nut off? (Oopsie.) Apparently stabilizer bar links are kind of important, so we had the pleasure of ordering them next day air.


There was a lot of rolling around on the ground, a good deal of grunting (that thing was heavy!) and perhaps even a swear word or two… or three… (hundred), but in the end, everything went back together the way it was supposed to. The poor jeep had to spend another two nights jacked up while waiting for those overnight parts to come, but we were able to finish her up yesterday afternoon. Our first test drive required some tweaking. Our second test drive required a little more tweaking. Our third test drive: Success! No more grinding sound in the rear end, no more horrible noise when we hit the brakes. Silence. Well, as silent as an 18 year old car can be anyway. What a relief to have successfully replaced our rear end! We celebrated with corn dogs and ice cream sandwiches, because we are that kind of wild.


Now, when I look outside, I see Peej (yes, that is her name) sitting in her own parking space, all four wheels safely on the ground, and I am pretty sure she is happy. I can almost hear her plotting her next move. Bring it on, Peej! With Rob’s knowledge, my super-human strength, and about 200 YouTube videos, we can fix just about…. No, I am just kidding. Please don’t break, please don’t break, please don’t break…

Only in October…

October always turns out to be such a fun month. With pumpkin patches, fall colors, costume shopping, Halloween parties, pumpkin carving, and of course trick-or-treating, there always seems to be something exciting going on. This year was no exception.

DSC_0020-1We have always enjoyed going to the pumpkin patch, but it had been a few years since we had been near one. This year we came upon a small patch in Williston. It was slightly different than we were used to, with pumpkins being delivered as opposed to actually growing out in the field, but it was still fun to select our perfect pumpkins.

DSC_0988-1They had pedal cars and a rope climb and rubber duck races, all things the kids enjoyed. In attending these events, I realize just how big our kids are getting. They were among the oldest kids there, but I love that they still have such a good time at events like this.


Pumpkin carving took place on Saturday morning. Liam had already carved a pumpkin as school, but all three kiddos were able to carve their pumpkin patch selections. They had a lot of fun and their pumpkins turned out great. This morning I roasted their pumpkin seeds, so they will have a tasty snack after school. : )


Trick-or-treating is always a big hit. I love the variety of things people hand out these days. They came home with everything from stuffed Halloween snakes to rubber duckies to juice boxes. Our kids do not seem to mind that we still walk along the street with them while they run from house to house, and I am grateful for that.


Of course, watching them run along only reminds me of when they were little, back when we had to hold their hands and help them up onto porches. And now, as I look at my beautiful babies, I am only too aware that my little ones are not so little anymore… But they sure are awesome big kids! I hope you all enjoyed October as much as we did!


October, here’s to you. Here’s to the heady aroma of the frost-kissed apples, the winey smell of ripened grapes, the wild-as-the-wind smell of hickory nuts, and the nostalgic whiff of that first wood smoke. ~Ken Weber, in Providence Journal-Bulletin