Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Randomness and a Book Review

We've been having the most remarkable weather. Many of you are having remarkable weather this summer - remarkably hot, remarkably wet, remarkably dry. Ours is remarkably pleasant. I just can't get over it. After so many years of really hot summers and drought, we are having weather like we used to have in Colorado - pleasant mornings, afternoon showers, cool evenings. I hold my breath every day, wondering if it's going to last. I just will enjoy it as long as it does.

Do you ever put off making phone calls you need to make or writing letters you know you to need to write? The other day I realized I needed to talk to three different Lindas in my life. You know how Emma is the most popular name for girl babies over the last several years? Linda must have been one of the top names back in the late 1940s, because all 3 of these friends are my age, or close. I also have my dear blog friend, Linda, who is near my age as well.

So I did a Linda-calling marathon, and it was wonderful to catch up with all of them.

The first Linda I called was a friend from high school. I only went to this school in Nebraska for 2 years, and it was a great place to end my high school career. She was one of a group of girls who took me in as a junior and treated me as if I had been with them since kindergarten - as many of them had been. I hadn't seen her since high school when suddenly she showed up in my driveway. I couldn't believe it - her husband had taken a job out here for the same company where DC worked. Unbelievably, of all the houses they looked at, they bought the one next door to us. I didn't even know it was for sale, but was so thrilled, because those neighbors had been the kind that you really hope and pray will move away soon! What a blessing - they lived by us for 6 years and we had great times together. We also went through sadness with them, when their older son was killed in a freak accident at age 19. This Linda and I connected with two other high school friends who live here in Colorado as well, and we have spent many hours around lunch tables laughing and talking, and sometimes crying through each others' tough times. They have recently purchased a cabin close to us in the mountains, so we can see each other more often again. We talked that night for a long time and got caught up on the latest.

The next day I began thinking of the second Linda. Actually, chronologically, she was the third, but I called her next. This Linda began working at CSU in the same department with me, on the same day. She was my Christian buddy at work, and we lived through much together over the next 10 years. She recently lost her mom after years of encroaching dementia, and we talked of that for a long time. She left the university and did a two-year mission, teaching in Morocco. The last 4 years she's spent dividing her time between Estes Park, where she lived in a cabin with her mom, and St. Louis, where they stayed the winters with Linda's older sister. I hope to see her sometime in August when she's back here to figure out what to do with the cabin.

The next day, I called the third Linda - she was my college roommate for only one year, and my roommate in our first year of teaching. We both were resident assistants in a freshman dorm during our junior year. We became very close friends that year. She is tall like me, she had 2 siblings on campus, as did I. People thought we were sisters - and we were almost as close as we were with our sisters. We ended up teaching in a small town in southeast Kansas and let's just say, neither of us had a glorious experience there. She ended up back close to home in western Kansas and I ended up here in Colorado. We used to write letters regularly, but that went by the wayside after we got so busy with our growing families. But we still got together as often as we could, including going to college reunions together. I'm hoping we can go to our 40th (YIKES!) together in November. She's the kind of friend that, no matter how long it's been, the conversation picks up right where it left off.

I have one more Linda who was important in my history - she was my first college roommate. I have lost track of her, sadly. I wish I knew her current last name, because I could look her up on Facebook!

It's been a busy week in grandma-land. I've had the kids a lot. Blessedly, DC has been doing a lot of fun things with the big girls. I've had fun with the babies out on the patio. We attempted a walk to the mailbox, but we only made it about halfway.

Feisty got a bubble machine for her birthday, and the babes have been having such a great time with it.

Note the peanut butter and jelly on their faces and their swimsuits.

There's something about water - whether it's clean puddles --

Or really dirty, yucky gutter water --

Katie is following in the footsteps of her big sister, Care Bear, who never met a flower she didn't love or want to pick --

And, finally - I recently read a book that I want to share with you. I got it from my SIL for my birthday, but finally got around to reading it. It is a fabulous book, with a message that will really grip your soul. The name of the book of Safely Home, written by Randy Alcorn. It is fiction, but tells the story of Christians in China and the incredible difficulty of their journey with Christ. When one of the main themes of a book consists of the sentence, "Is this the day I die?" you know it's going to be tough to read at times.

This book is something every complacent Christian in America should read. Chuck Colson says, "Safely Home is not only a first-class story; it's a bracing wake-up call about Christian persecution in China. You'll be challenged."

If you read it, please let me know what you think. I believe it will change your thinking, as it did mine.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Birthday Memories

The other morning when I was in Colorado Springs, I went to my car early in the morning, and was surprised to see a beautiful balloon in the empty field next to the hotel, readying for take off. I wanted a picture, but my camera was up in the room, and they did head into the blue before I could get up there and back.

But it brought back a wonderful memory.

DC's birthday was Thursday. He is now 67, which is hard to believe if you'd ever meet him. He is a very youthful 67, and keeps himself in very good shape. His "furlough" time has been spent working very hard in the yard, bike riding, running, hiking, and occasionally taking a break to watch the Tour de France or the British Open. Future plans include golfing and boating, but he only has 3 weeks left, so I don't know if he'll fit it all in!

But the memory I'm referring to happened 17 years ago, when he turned 50. I wasn't making a lot of money, but was able to save up enough to surprise him with a balloon ride for the big 5-0. It was all planned for the Saturday before his birthday, which was on a Thursday. We were to be at the top of Horsetooth Mountain by 6:00 a.m. We would be back by 10 or so, at which time there was a surprise brunch planned for our back yard. I had even called a local radio station, asking them if they could play a request promptly at 6:00 a.m.

I was awakened from a sound sleep around 4:30 a.m. with a most unusual and ominous sound. It absolutely never thunders in Northern Colorado at 4:30 a.m. in July. Just doesn't. But it did! I jumped out of bed (well, snuck out would be a better description) and headed downstairs around 5:00 to call the balloon operator. He gave me the expected, but bad, news - there was no way a balloon was going into the sky that morning with the possibility of lightning. I rescheduled for Thursday, his actual birthday. I went into the bathroom to have a private little pitty party, complete with tears, very quietly.

I went back to bed, but first found the radio station that was to play the special request. DC was quite confused by this time - how could I explain all of this unusual activity on a Saturday morning? I had never listened to this station before, never turned on the radio at 5:50 on a Saturday morning, never cried in the bathroom so early in the morning . . .

Precisely at 6:00, right on cue, the radio DJ said, "And now, a song for DC on his 50th birthday!" And there came "Up Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon!" Suddenly, he said, "Oh, I GET IT!" I told him the whole story (well, except for the brunch part), and that the surprise would no longer be a surprise, but it would still take place on Thursday (barring another thunder storm).

But - then I had another problem. How to get rid of him so we could prepare the party! I had to get him to leave, because Kristen was going to the store to pick up the pastries, juice, and balloons. I invented a need for him to go over to his mom's house and do some work on her yard. This made no sense to him, because it was Kev's job. But he went, arriving back just as Kristen drove in the driveway with our tiny little car jammed with balloons. The good thing is that DC is pretty much in his own little world, so you can pull a lot over on him!

I can't remember exactly what happened next, but soon our friends began to arrive, all bearing gifts around the theme of "50". He received an atlas with 50 states, 50 dimes, 50 Hershey's kisses, $50 one dollar bills from me, and, if I remember correctly - 50 Ex-Lax tablets!

He was either surprised, or he is a really good faker. I can't remember which.

It was a really fun, relaxing morning with many good friends.

DC took the day off work on Thursday so we could do the balloon adventure. It was a beautiful day and everything went perfectly.

I think those cows must be used to the "whooshing" noise that the balloon makes as it rises into the air.

I was privileged to ride along with the woman who followed the balloon from the ground in a truck. They headed for Horsetooth Reservoir, and it actually touched down into the water for a brief few moments.

DC said it was just so peaceful as they sailed through the air - there is no sense of movement, he said - it just glides with the air stream.

Finally, it made its way to the field in which it would land.

It made a bit of a rough landing, with the basket bouncing along.

Part of the adventure was to help the crew put the balloon back into its home. That is a lot of fabric!

We were transported back to the home base at the top of the mountain, for the final ceremony. We were offered champagne, but since we don't do alcohol in any form, we opted for sparkling apple cider. Little did we know that the "ritual" was a bit nuts -
I can't remember what he had to say, but they "baptized" him with the sticky stuff.

But then we were served, and the adventure was over. He thoroughly enjoyed it.

He would love to do it again sometime, and would love for me to go too. I can only imagine how much more it costs now!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Really, Really Random Ramblings

I just got back from a wonderful couple of days in Colorado Springs for our annual church convention. It's something I do every summer, and I enjoy it so much. I see old friends, I hear wonderful messages, I stay in a nice hotel room, eat out, and the business parts of the meetings are okay, too.

Summer is flying by! School starts in less than 4 weeks - much earlier than in any other year. Feisty will be in kindergarten - hard to believe!

This will be a long post full of pictures - it's catch-up time for me, since I haven't written and posted much recently. Thanks for all the fun comments on the FedEx/NKOTB story. Following are some pictures of the event.

The "kids" brought their own kids out for the final number. Cute!

I'm going back to the 4th of July, believe it or not. Remember the trip to the prairie? When we got back that afternoon, we went out to dinner with DC's mom, sister, and BIL. We had a wonderful time together, but as we were eating, a sudden downpour appeared. We wondered what would happen to the fire works. Before we even got home, there was already a beautiful rainbow over the lake, appearing to land in our neighborhood park.

While we sat in the park waiting for the fire works display, I enjoyed experimenting with my camera's settings to capture God's beautiful display.

Feisty, who had been looking forward to this holiday for many days turned out to be afraid of the loud booms. But the babies thoroughly enjoyed it.

I love the juxtaposition of the moon and the fire works.

I mentioned in a post recently that Care Bear lost her first two teeth. My dear blog friend, Needled Mom, sent her and Feisty these adorable Tooth Fairy pillows. Thank you so much! You are SO talented!

Then I had to take pictures of each tooth!

The other day Kristen found a tub full of clothes in her basement, many which fit the twins. We don't know where these clothes came from, but it's fun to have such a discovery. We'd love to know who created this adorable dress - it looks so simple, but I wouldn't know where to begin. All of you crocheters out there, what do you think??

One recent day, DC was trimming some branches off one of our very large trees in the front yard. He was on a tall ladder, using his chain saw. The girls were watching from the porch swing, when suddenly, somehow, the ladder gave way and he fell to the ground - with the trimmer still running! There are so many miracles involved in this situation that I can hardly even imagine that he wasn't seriously injured. Care Bear immediately ran in and captured the situation on paper. If you click on the pictures, you can see her thanking God for His protection of her grandpa!

We've had such a beautiful summer so far, with lots of moisture keeping things green and lush, and with no horrendous heat yet. The thunder clouds to the east have been massive. On a bike ride one evening, I captured the sky in many different scenarios.

When we got home, we felt like we were going into a Thomas Kincaid painting. Our house looked so cozy and inviting.

Jungle Mom has a great feature on her blog where she captures "Things I See" around her home in Paraguay. I spotted a couple of interesting things that I thought I'd share in a similar vein.

There are many kinds of people - those who are proud of their yards and keep them in immaculate condition, with great flowers and bushes neatly taken care of.

There are those who do just enough to keep the grass cut.

There are those who do nothing with their yards and make the neighborhood look tacky.

And there are those who do very strange things to "decorate." This guy falls into this last category. I have watched his yard deteriorate for years, but this latest scenario has me totally puzzled. For some reason he seems to think that children's toys and/or trikes and bikes are decorative. And he has so much growth in his front yard that you can't even see the house. I have never actually seen a person, but we're assuming it's a "him."

I was riding my bike past this house when I did a double take. Don't get me wrong - I think the flower garden is lovely. But as I looked closer, I realized for some reason they are using china plates as a border. I would love to know where the idea came from. Has anybody seen anything like this before?

Well, if you've made it this far, Congratulations! I now feel kind of caught up. I'll be back soon with a celebration of my dear DC's birthday.