Sunday, December 9, 2012

Let It Snow!

I saw the cardinal hiding in the spruce tree in the front of our house today.

Winter may not be officially here on the calendar yet, but the weather is very winter-like today.  It's been snowing since last night and we've got about 15" of snow on the ground and it's still snowing!  I wish Mike were home, safe and sound, but he's up north with plans to drive home tomorrow.  Let's hope he can get in the driveway, it's pretty deep.  Thank goodness I got the plow stakes in a few weeks ago!

I guess we're going to make up for last year, our "winterless" winter.  A lot of people liked the warm weather and brown landscape, but I didn't.  Not really.

I'm ready to strap on my skis and get out skiing  Or go snowshoeing.  Or hit the trails up north with the snowmobiles.  So many options for so much fun!  Daniel is hoping for a snowday tomorrow and I'm thinking he'll get his wish.  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When Life Hurts

Me, Errin & Mike at Errin's breast cancer fundraiser last Saturday night.

There are times when life hits you over the head with a sledgehammer.  That's been my life lately.  Head, meet sledgehammer.  Sledgehammer, meet head.  Ouch.

In September, my sister, who happens to be my walking partner, therapist, neighbor, boss and best friend, sat my mother and I down to tell us she was sick with breast cancer.  Turns out it's not just any old breast cancer but a triple negative Inflammatory Breast Cancer, staged 3C.  You'd have to be a breast cancer expert or a doctor to fully appreciate that diagnosis but to simplify things I'll just say it's a pretty bad diagnosis.  IBC is extremely aggressive and, thankfully, pretty rare at only 1-2% of all breast cancers.

Since then, I have been integral in my sister's care, making and accompanying her to appointments all over the Twin Cities area.  For anyone reading this that lives in the area I'd like to give a shout out for the Piper Breast Center.  If you're diagnosed with breast cancer I wouldn't consider going anywhere else. Period.  They are a top notch facility with exceptional doctors, nurses and staff.  I'm grateful for the amazing care my sister has received there.  Her extreme diagnosis had them altering schedules and making it possible for her to begin chemo in record time.  While it's scary to see doctors do that sort of thing, I'm thankful they take her care so seriously.

In the meantime, as if that weren't enough, my dear husband had an accident up at our cabin while removing our son's tree fort from a rotten tree.  It all came down unexpectedly when he was working on it and hit him square in the face.  He didn't let a "small" injury like that stop him and both he and our son, Daniel, went out deer hunting the next morning even though he was in a considerable amount of pain.

We don't have a telephone up there and cell service is spotty so I didn't hear about it until he was on his way home two days later.  It was a shock to see him because he was barely recognizable as the swelling and bruising were quite severe.  Our oldest daughter burst into tears at the sight of him!  Mike is not fond of doctors but I managed to drag him in to see one the next day. 

Turns out he had multiple fractures all over his face and a potentially more serious opening in the cranium allowing air into the brain cavity along with a concussion which included bleeding and swelling of his brain.  We ended up spending the night in the trauma unit at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.  After working with three separate teams: Trauma, Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery, he was discharged the next evening.  We've been back to see all sorts of specialists since then and to make a long story short, while we have a few more doctor appointments to keep an eye on him, my husband should be fine.  It's a miracle that he was not more severly injured and that he doesn't need surgery.  I'm feeling very grateful for the outcome at this point and pray that his healing will continue.

So, what do you do when loved ones are injured or become ill?  How do you walk through the valley, supporting them, without losing your mind?  Trusting God gives me strength and keeps me sane.  I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have His comforting presence through it all.  Slowly, painfully, I release my dreams of growing old with my husband and my sister at my side to God, learning to trust Him with my most cherished possession of all:  my family.  It's a process and some days are better than others but I'm grateful for His faithfulness as we walk through this valley, together.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fall Hay Ride Party!

Every year, without fail, Mike's sister, Brenda and her husband, Tony, host an annual Fall Hay Ride Party the last Saturday of September.  It is great fun and we look forward to a day filled with fun, food, friends, family, food, games, hayrides, dancing and did I mention lots of delicious food? 

Daniel is giving the gunny sack race his best effort!
The egg toss is always a fun event.  Look carefully and you can see the eggs flying in the background!
Oops!  Throw it a little too hard and this is what you get!
We always have a tug of war, girls against the boys.  The girls ALWAYS win!
My great nephews are adorable as they wrestle for the weapon...
He's not giving up!
But older brother prevails, for now!
My girls at the garden shed.
My "adopted" daughter, Jessie!
A portion of Tony's sizeable tractor collection for young and old alike.
The girls and I with our happy faces...
The contempt photo.  It's turned into a family joke.  Don't ask why but it makes me laugh!
There's even live music and dancing!
The girls having fun taking a spin on the dance floor.
Mike and I on a hay ride.
I love going to this party every year because I always get to see so many family members and friends at one time.  Brenda and Tony really go all out to put on a stellar event that the whole neighborhood looks forward to.

Good times, good times.  Thanks Brenda and Tony for a day full of fun family memories!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

England/France 2012

Leah and I traveled to England and France for just over three weeks in May and June.  I'm a bit slow in getting a blog post out about our trip but it was wonderful.  We missed Emily, who did not join us on our European travels this year, but much fun was had and memories were made even in her absence.  I've loaded a lot of photos, so feel free to take a look as time allows...
William and Leah on our walk in the country.  I'd give anything to have walking trails at home like they have in England!
The Tower Bridge
Arlene and I on the train on a trip to Brighton on the coast.
Leah in the Great Court in the British Museum, the world's oldest museum.
Paella maker at Covent Garden.  Mmmmm!
Leah at the corner market, selecting apricots (the best we've ever had!) in Paris.
A row of trees in a park in Paris.
Opera de Paris Garnier designed by Charles Garnier for Napoleon III in 1862.  It took 13 years to complete!
Leah and I are fans of Phantom of the Opera and wanted to tour the Opera de Paris
but it wasn't open for tours on the day we were there.
Leah standing on a bridge over La Seine in front of Notre Dame.
Enjoying a morsel from heaven: Macarons!  It is our goal to learn how to bake
these challenging little treats.
We visited Sainte-Chapelle last year but had to return on this trip.
It's an exquisite Gothic masterpiece considered to be Paris's most beautiful church.
The stained glass windows soar 50 feet to the sky!

A close up of the gorgeous stained glass in Saint-Chapelle.  Amazing.
A view in a bakery window of the luscious meringues that come in all flavors.
Leah and I tried the rose meringue and it was delectable!
I'm so captivated by the locks on the bridges (or Ponts) of Paris.  The locks are placed there by couples in love who throw the keys in the river afterward and symbolize a never-ending love.  Sigh...  So romantic!
No caption needed.  The Eiffel Tower is gorgeous architecture at its finest.
Leah and I on a beautiful sunny day at Jardin des Tuileries with the gorgeous Musee du Louvre in the background.
Back in England, we took the train to the coastal village of Eastbourne and hiked along
the enormous chalk cliffs at Beachy Head.
A sobering reminder of those who ventured to close to the edge of the cliffs. 
There were more crosses than these shown here.  Sad.
So beautiful!
Old lighthouse in the distance.
We spent four days in northern England in the Lake District and took a tour of Beatrix Potter's Hill Top Farm.
Arriving at Ferndene, the lovely B & B in Keswick, the Lake District.
The Lake District has some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world! 
It also happens to be known for having some of the wettest weather in the world.
We were blessed with unseasonably warm and sunny weather while we visited.
Leah and I on the Catbells hike.
Please forgive me for going on and on about the scenery on our hike.  It was amazing.
Leah taking a little break on our hike.
What?!  We have to go still higher?!  These hills look deceptively gentle but they are more arduous than they look!
Leah at Catbells Peak.  Such a fantastic view with the bonus of blue skies!
I'm not too old to climb mountains (er, fells) with my daughter. 
Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life and health!
An old bridge in the quaint village of Grange.
We enjoyed some of the best ice cream I've ever tasted there: Homemade Black Currant.  Mmmm...
Sheep are EVERYWHERE in the Lake District.  This cute little lamb was checking us out.
We also ran into cattle on our hikes and Leah enjoyed bonding with this cow.
More gorgeousness
Leah at the ancient Castlerigg stone circle.

I love old cemeteries and gravestones.  This one was across the street from our B & B in Keswick.
Leah looking out at Derwent Water on our final night there.
Cute lambs grazing in the field.
Flowers are everywhere in England, even in the crevices of stone walls.
A misty hiking path on a typical day in England.

Arlene was barbecuing sausages for the party on our last day in England.
This photo makes me smile.  She's drinking tea to stay warm and barbecuing in the rain!
Putting this blog post together makes me homesick for England and Paris.  We hope to return again next year, Lord willing.  In the meantime, the wonderful memories we have will have to suffice.