Memories…some good…some bad

A guide to Christmas gift giving

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Surprisingly, I am finished with my Christmas shopping. However, most years I’m the Christmas Eve 10:00 pm shopper and so I thought I’d provide some insight into successful gift giving.

Mom and Dad were the best gift givers. And when I say “best” I mean the worst. But the memories we have of those Christmas’s together are the best.

Mom would always make us play games to get our gifts. We would moan and groan about it, but I think I can speak for my siblings when I say we actually thought it was pretty awesome. There was always Christmas trivia and a Christmas word search and often times a scavenger hunt of some kind. Whoever won would get to pick a present out of the present box – which was actually a laundry basket with unwrapped stuff they had collected over the year like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap…that’s all I can remember that was actually useful. The rest was just a bunch of junk. The first couple years of our gift tradition, Mom and Dad would wrap the gifts in the basket. I remember the year Jim got a shower cap and panty hose. Best Christmas ever, right Jim? I think that was the same year they wrapped up the urn that held the remains of our family dog Ed.

We would also get cans of vegetables. Gee, thanks Mom and Dad. Although it’s a lot better than dead Ed. Of course we would eventually learn that they would carefully take the label off the can, put money inside the label and put the label back so you couldn’t tell it had been touched. Pretty sneaky!

The best gift? Mentos. That’s right, those disgusting candies. When Mom started doing the games, she would wrap the Mentos and they would be one of our “main” gifts. It turned into a joke that it was our favorite present and sure enough, we got a pack every year.

At the end of each game-gift party we would all sit there thinking, “Is that it?” Of course, every year Mom and Dad would then hand us a check or cash.

Our last Christmas together we decided to do a gift exchange. We all had to buy something that was a “favorite.” And then we did the white elephant gift exchange game. Turns out Mom and Dad each bought something that really was their favorite and that they actually wanted. So they went for their gifts and they were gifts that no one else would want. Dad’s was a handkerchief – he wore them when we was out with the horses. I can’t remember what Mom’s gift was but I do know they both ended up with their own gift in the end. I can still see Dad sitting in his chair giggling because he thought he and Mom were so sneaky.

On Sunday we had Christmas with my brother Tracy and his wife Patricia. We stuffed ourselves with amazing food and then had a little gift exchange. Tracy decided to carry on the tradition with their gifts to me and Pat.

I got this movie:

It had been opened and I could tell it was used. I was like, “Oh, thank you!” trying to mask my real thought of, “What the heck is this!” After a few awkward minutes, Tracy said, “Missy open it.” Of course, there was a gift card inside. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! They did the same with Pat. They gave him an old pair of jeans. Hidden away in one of the pockets was another gift card.

My children are already teaching me how to give gifts. We let them go to the dollar store and pick out whatever they wanted for their aunts and uncles. Oh dear. For the last couple of years they’ve had this thing with Tracy that they want to get him the worst gift. I have no idea where this comes from. They truly do love their uncle Tracy. Last year they got him a big spider (he hates spiders) and some type of slime stuff.

This year Angel got him a different type of slime. It was pretty cool and he actually like it. And she was bummed. ?? Caleb was so excited for Tracy to open his gift. He kept saying, “You are going to hate it!” It was a Mr Potato head paper weight thing (I think). Mr P was dressed up like a scuba diver. It was really weird. Because of all of Caleb’s smack talk before opening presents, Tracy asked Patricia to video tape Caleb’s reaction when he opened the present.

Hahaha. Seriously, Caleb’s expression when Tracy says he likes it, is so funny!

Well anyway, that’s all the “wisdom” I have for you today.

Whatever you do decide to get your loved ones, remember that the most important gift you can give is your love and your time. I’ve learned not to take anyone for granted because in the blink of an eye, they could be gone. What I wouldn’t give for just one more Christmas with a pack of Mentos.

Cherish every moment and have a blessed Christmas!



When life seemed more simple

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Do you ever look back at the past years of your life and think that life was so much more simple? I’m sure at the time, in the moment of life, it didn’t seem simple.

Like today. Today doesn’t seem simple. I miss my parents. I miss my siblings and I’m sad that we don’t see each other very much. I’m feeling overwhelmed with our financial situation. I’m joyful that I have so much energy and am finally healthy and am working hard towards a successful business. I look at the weather forecast and I dread having to drive in to town this coming winter. I’m concerned about my kids and are we loving them enough, teaching them enough, guiding them enough? I’m excited to be a part of our couple’s ministry at church. I wish I had more time to spend with my husband. I wish our dog would stop barking every time she’s outside. I wonder if it’s going to be a major pain this winter to have to walk out and let the chickens out and put them away at night. I wonder how much an automatic door is. I’m frustrated that I’m not spending enough time writing my book. I wonder if anyone would even read my book.

When you let your mind go, life goes from simple to major overwhelmtion, doesn’t it?

For some reason I decided to go back and look at past years on this blog and see what I was writing about.  As I read what I wrote on October 4th (or close to it) every year, life sure did seem simple.

In 2008 I had an almost 1-year old. And I was 8 months pregnant. I wrote about my girl and trying to get her to smile.

So funny. She’s always had the best faces. Hahahaha, it makes me laugh so much.

In 2009 I had an almost 2-year old and an almost 1-year old. I wrote about an adventure going to the store with my kiddos.

Ok, maybe life wasn’t so simple. Hahaha, for reals, how funny is that. And how awesome is it, that I’m not that mom anymore. I love you so much if you are that mom, wrangling 2 or more babies through the store. My kids are now old enough that I can bribe convince them they need to make good choices because otherwise they don’t get a horsie ride it’s what’s right .

Not really. Going to the store with both kids still sucks. Yes. Yes I am thankful. Very, very, very thankful for my babies. But I’m just being honest. The store is the worst.

And let me just say that I said I spent $123 on groceries and that would last us 3 weeks. What in the world was I smoking? I’m sure I would like to think it would last 3 weeks, but I also know I would have had to go back to the store 4 more times. Although at that time, I didn’t have 2 constantly starving preschoolers eating me out of house and home!

Here’s another one from 2009.

Seriously. I could watch this video of Angel 400 million times.

I actually tried to submit it to “funniest home videos,” but their website was so ridiculous I couldn’t figure it out. Perhaps that’s to prevent over-emotional mothers from submitting all kinds of videos of their wonderful children!

Here’s a video from 2010.

I can’t hear it, I don’t know if you can. But honestly it’s good enough just looking at my precious babies. For reals, how sweet are they?

It helps it you turn up the volume.

We just watched this video again for the 4th time this morning. A few things.

Caleb kind of looks like the devil. Just saying.

When I ask him what he’s having he says, “hot dogs” and “cheese”. HAHAHAHA. He used to say that all that time.

How sweet are their little voices.  And dow amazing is my girl that she can say alveterzane.

After looking back at these posts, there’s one thing I can say for sure.

Today, amidst all the crazy of life, it might not seem so simple. But life certainly is sweet.


It’s like the first 4th

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Dear Mom and Dad,

I don’t write to you much anymore.
I certainly talk to you in my head, but most of those conversations are ok just left there.

Today is the 4th of July though.
And it kind of feels like the first 4th without you.
Last year the reality of losing you was still so raw.

There are so many 4th of July memories with you…

Growing up in Redfield when we owned the fireworks stand.
Us kids swiping fireworks.
Being amazed at the people who would come and buy $500 worth of fireworks or more.
Our dog Ed who would try to eat fireworks and every year get his whiskers singed off. That one year we put him in the car (with the windows down a little) and he totally destroyed the car because he wanted to get to the fireworks so bad! Hahaha.
You always gave away so many samples and freebies. I’m not sure we made any money off the fireworks stand, but you certainly made lots of friends and taught us about generosity and not being greedy.

All the years out on the river at Cedar Shores.
Your boat usually led the boat parade (when it wasn’t too windy).
We’d attempt to decorate but usually our decorations were pretty lame.
Sitting on the boat out in the water, feeling like the fireworks were going to come down right on top of us.
All the friends family along the docks, everyone celebrating together.
Attempting (and usually failing) to catch fish off the docks…well I guess that was every weekend! HA!

My favorite 4th of July picture of all time…


Miss you more than words can express today.

Miss your joy and laughter and teasing and unconditional love.

Miss your calm presence and gentle spirit.

Miss celebrating holidays – and every day with you.

As much as I miss you, I’m beginning to not wish you back though.

Especially today.

You have the best seat in the house and will for sure have the best fireworks show ever.
No way I can wish you back from that.

Love you,


Together again

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The past few days have of course been hard, but being together with my amazing siblings was just what I needed! Nellie got to town Tuesday night. I should say poor Nellie got to town Tuesday night because that meant that she had five nights of no sleep ahead of her.  She’s so awesome about letting the kids sleep with her!


Jim and Leana flew in on Wednesday! Talk about dejavue. The last time we were at the SF airport to pick them up was on June 13 last year. While it was still a little hard reliving those memories, it was obviously a much more joyous occasion this time around. The 6 of us piled into my car and we were off for a day of spending money we don’t have fun!


We had a huge lunch at Chevy’s and then did more shopping. We were trying to “waste” time because we had decided kinda last minute to let the kids participate in Sioux Fall’s weekly track meets. Tracy is one of the guys in charge and so he had to be there anyway and we thought with Danelle, Jim and Leana there to watch, the kids would be super excited.

Here’s Caleb doing the softball throw.


Here’s my husband kissing the cow.


Here’s the kids hugging the cow.


The starting line of their first race – the 50m dash!


Angel getting ready to run.


Caleb ready to run!


Leana took these next two pictures – love them! Her captions:

“Lil flame”


“All the girls love Bubba”


We got home around 7:30 or 8:00 Wednesday night and I think we all crashed. It was going to be a long day on Thursday.

The kids went to Grama Barb’s and the rest of us were on the road for Chamberlain by 8:30 am. We had to clean out the garage and tear down a wall that dad had put up to hide all his crap.


We couldn’t believe how amazing it looked all cleaned out (imagine this completely full). Hopefully having it cleaned up will help us get an offer.


We got done with the garage about 4:00 I think and then just the four of us went down to the river and had some time just to ourselves.



We were obviously all pretty exhausted Thursday night and so it was another early night to bed.

Friday we had more running around to do in town. And I found out some exciting news that I can’t really share with you now, but I will soon. Haha, sorry. So anyway, we decided to go out to eat at the casino to celebrate and of course because it was seafood night. We actually sat at the same table that we sat at the last time we were there with Mom and Dad.  Yes, we do remember those types of things.  And it was kinda like they were with us.

We headed to the farm and now it was time for some real fun.  Caleb played king of the mountain and had to battle Uncle Tracy.



I think Caleb won.

And then we had target practice competitions.


“Hey guys, let’s shoot some guns!”






Hahaha! Leana is so funny!


I’m pretty sure I won. Or not.

Jim and Pat got the fire going shortly after that.



And then we threw Molly in.

HAHA just kidding.





It was such a beautiful night. Eventually the kids, Pat and Leana all went in the house and it was just the four of us. I can’t put in to words what a blessing it was to be all together.  As you probably know we were going to have a party the following day, on Saturday, but we were so thankful that we had decided to cancel it. It was so nice to just be together and not worry about getting things ready for a party. We’d love to have one down the road and I’m sure we will, but on this first anniversary it was good to be just us.

It was also a good thing we cancelled the party because it rained on Saturday. All. Day. Long.  Holly and Timothy came over for the day. We played board games. Watched Duck Dynasty. Made a trip to town for groceries. Jim made us supper Saturday night – amazing!  And just like that it was almost Sunday and Jim, Leana and Danelle were heading for home.

I know that Mom and Dad were smiling down from Heaven, seeing all of us in church together. I sang special music and I was so thankful to have everyone there.


Life goes on.

Cherish each day. Hug your family. Say I love you. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Love God. Love others.

Make each day count, as if it were your last.