Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spring Break at the Farm

We couldn't decide what to do for Spring Break when we were discussing it several months ago. I just knew we wanted to 'go somewhere' and do 'something fun.' When we were at SILs in January, hubby and BIL were discussing when to plant seed and sunflowers (to grow to attract dove to hunt.) The best time to do that was in March and we decided to spent our time away from school there with them.

Hubby is always in heaven when he is there. It's just not the environment, driving the tractor/disc or working while there, it's the interaction with his sister and BIL that makes it all worthwhile. The fact that they now have a pool makes it even better as he can work hours doing something he loves and then swim or sit in their hot tub. It's always a wonderful place to visit and I so much enjoy talking with SIL about everything under the sun. She's the sister I never had and our relationship over the last 30 years has continued to thrive. We enjoy the same kind of books and movies. While there, we all started watching the first few seasons of Doc Martin, a British comedy television series that has been on for years. We've only finished the first three or four seasons but I can't wait to watch more of them. Even my kiddos loved the series and have started saying "Yeah, innit."

This is my SIL. She looks like this most of the time. When she gets dressed up to go somewhere and puts on her make-up and 'fixes' her hair, she believes she looks so much better but this is how I see her...enjoying the morning walk with her dogs on her farm with us...and I was so glad to be able to snap a picture to capture the moment of her as she usually is...beautiful.

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My SIL is an animal lover. Years before she (and BIL) got their first dog, she wanted a female black lab named Molly. I love the way she defines a goal and waits for it to come to her. She also wanted a certain kind of place to live (farm) and had a vision of what it would look like. Now she has had both for years. Over the last number of years, her huge heart of helping dogs, in particular, has invited 9 dogs to live there, not including foster dogs. She farm has a fence that keeps them safe and they can run and roam as far as they'd like. She is very knowledgeable about what to feed them depending on their age; several are now getting old and have arthritis and she make sure she gives them whatever meds they need to make them feel better. If I were a dog on Earth, I'd want to live there. Her heart doesn't stop with her pets. She's always been there for any of us (and my extended family) and continues to provide for her mother (my MIL in the ALF.) Watching her throughout the years with her grandchildren was what I want to be able to do for mine. She has never once forgotten our birthday or anniversary or happy occasion and always sends us a card (or present.) Hubby says no one makes chocolate chip cookies like she can (they're REALLY good) and loves it when she makes them for him. She is the person to take care of my kiddos should something happen to us (and my bf friend Janet as plan b) but of course, nothing will happen until they're all grown up and old. Luckily, BIL likes us and is really good about us going there, messing the place up and 'eating them out of house and home.' He's a great guy and is quiet. SIL said that they used to say at his work that he didn't say much but when he did, everyone listened. That is true. He has excellent moral character and is a great thinker. They make a great team!

The farm doesn't get a lot of rain but when it does, in this time of year, wildflowers will sprout and grow. I forgot to charge my camera before I left to go there so I didn't take a lot of pictures but I took a few of the kiddos in the flowers. My kids are overdue for haircuts as their hair is not usually this long.

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And my favorite...
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We just spent 10 days there and it feels like just 4 or 5. The days passed quickly. The kids played, read lots of books (well, my kindergartener did) and played outside. I read at least 5 or 6 books and we didn't watch a lot of tv. Their internet barely works so I checked my email here and there but didn't spend the time I usually do surfing or watching tv. It was an awesome Spring Break with the people I love. My younger daughter was at home (she has job interview and couldn't come) but it was a nice relaxing vacation of sorts. I am totally blessed to have SIL in my life. I came back home and saw of FB lots of exciting trips that other families took out of town and their wonderful pictures but have to say, I couldn't have asked for a better Spring Break.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ronald McDonald House

Last week, I stayed with my daughter and her family at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) because we were all out of town for my granddaughter's surgery. I hadn't had any firsthand knowledge of the RMHs other than they helped families who had kids in hospitals. We all drove over 5 hours to get to this particular hospital where Olivia's surgeon practices and were very lucky that there was a room available for us to stay at the facility in Dallas, TX. My daughter/family got there a day before I got there (there was an early morning MRI scheduled) and I drove up there so that I could go attend the many appointments with them the following day.

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The many appointments beforehand and the long hours spent in the hospital afterwards made the whole experience stressful. Having the blessing of such a place like RMH was amazing! They had volunteers who provided meals during the day (which helped because we had no energy or time to go out) and we caught one or two a day due to our schedule. They had many wonderful benefits for those staying there like washers and dryers (along with the detergent,) places to store your food (cabinets or use of refrigerator/freezer,) playrooms for kids and separate ones for teens, exercise room, library, places for guests to sit and talk, and you could even borrow/rent dvds to watch. They didn't have any televisions but that was no problem as we were so busy going back and forth to the hospital or reading about procedures and/or filling out paperwork.

This is me and Olivia before we left for the many appointments the day before her surgery.

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Since everyone there were there for the same reason (did not live close to the hospital and had a young loved one there,) we were exchanging stories and supporting each other. Just when you think you heard a really sad story, someone else's experience was even worse (luckily, our Olivia's condition was a necessary planned surgery and not one needed for a life/death situation or accident.)

I was completely overwhelmed by the generosity of the staff and RMH for us and others like us. I am much more aware of what RMH does and will be forever grateful for their commitment to helping kids/families. And just this week as I left a restaurant, I noticed this gum machine. Now that I am more aware of where the money goes, I will be a lifelong supporter.

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Sunday, March 02, 2014

Cream Cheese Brownies

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...and they're still warm. Heading to the kitchen right now!