This Or That For Fall

(Photo credit to my 8 year old, Wyatt.  I took them all out for yearly fall pictures, and asked him to take one for me.  Then all my kids wanted to take one of me, which was interesting, ha!)

It's dark outside.  The kids are still sleeping, and Derek brewed coffee before he left.  Harvey is sleeping on the floor at my feet.  I've already done my Bible time with the Lord, so don't think my priorities are too out of whack, but I made myself get out of bed early this morning because we have a busy day today and I wanted to have time to write a post! 

Those who have been blogging since the good old days, for which I am eternally pining, will remember that when you didn't have anything to say, you shared a survey.  Then everyone got all "professional" and "serious" about their blogs and dropped the casual get-to-know-you type posts.  But I still enjoy surveys, and I enjoy reading the answers to surveys, and I enjoy getting to know the people who are writing my favorite blogs, so by golly, we are doing the survey!  

(Don't ask me what I'm doing here, probably trying to explain to the five year old how to not get his hand in front of the lens - but honestly, he did a pretty good job otherwise!)

This is a fall "this or that", and if this sort of thing isn't nostalgic enough I'll try to incorporate some memories into it so it fits with my 31 Day Of Memory Keeping.  Feel free to snag and share it yourself if you want!  I grabbed it from here.

This or that?
1. Pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha?
Oh, I have to say peppermint mocha.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes are good and all, but peppermint mochas just taste like Christmas way more than PSLs taste like fall.  In my opinion.
2. Pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie?
Oh my gosh, why am I being made to choose between these?  We love pumpkin bread around here, but I guess since we have pumpkin bread or muffins so often, pumpkin pie feels more special.  
3. Thanksgiving dinner or Thanksgiving leftovers?
If we are just evaluating the enjoyment of the food, I would say that leftovers make the ordinary days right after Thanksgiving still feel special.  But if we are talking about overall experience, how can Thanksgiving dinner not win?  You get to spend a whole day with people you love best, playing games, visiting, watching football, and just enjoying each other's company.
4. Candy corn or Tootsie Rolls?
Oh, candy corn, hands down.  I think you already know why.
5. Haunted house or pumpkin patch?
I'm not into scary stuff, so pumpkin patch it is.  But can "corn maze" be an option?  Because I really like corn mazes.  We haven't been able to do one since Wyatt was a baby, just because they are so expensive.  I'm waiting until the kids are old enough for the cost to be worth it, but they are so fun!
6. Corn maze or hayride?
Oh, there's the corn maze.  *headsmack*  I guess I already answered this one!  Corn maze in general, but honestly right now with five little kids, we'd probably take the hay ride.
7. Caramel apple or candy apple?
Would you believe that I don't think I've ever had a candy apple?  So I'm not sure I could really say, but knowing me, caramel would win.

8. Boots or scarves?
Okay, this allows me to bring up something that has been irking me.  Guys, are scarves still...in?  I just have not noticed as many scarves when I am out shopping lately.  And you know how they are constantly changing which scarf styles are fashionable, mainly so they can keep selling you more scarves?  I can't for the life of me figure out what style of scarf is popular right now.  I'm not even sure I've seen people wearing scarves much anymore.  WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL THE SCARVES??
Generally speaking, I do like scarves.  But because of my current confusion, I'm going with boots.  I've never had trouble keeping up on shoe styles.
9. Holiday movies or holiday music?
Why must I choose?  If we are talking about holidays other than Christmas, I'd pick Hallmark movie specials, all the way.  I love that they make movies for every holiday you could think of, ha!  When it comes to Christmas, I would choose music.  I love my Christmas movies, but because the Christmas season gets so busy, music keeps things festive on the go.
10. Tire swings or jumping in leaves?
I've never truly experienced jumping in leaves, because no one actually rakes leaves in the mountains.  We just let them lie on the ground and enjoy the spicy aroma as they disintegrate.  I have experienced a tire swing though - my grandpa used to have one in this massive tree in his yard.  My siblings and I spent hours out there, taking turns on the swing.  Just remembering that now makes me want to hang one up by our house somewhere.
What do you guys think?  Tell me if you disagree with any of my choices, or feel free to grab this survey and fill it out yourself if you want!  


The Wednesday Five | Vol. 3


A Quote
"'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli. 
'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'
'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli. 
'Or break it,' said Elrond."                                                                         
-Fellowship Of The Ring

You can probably guess which book I'm reading right now!  This exchange stood out to me this time, and I found it interesting.  I tend to side with Gimli, I think, but curious if you all have any thoughts.  I'm mulling it over.


A Book

Alot of the books from Anne Bogel's summer reading guide were duds for me this time around, but I am listening to one of them, Searching For Sylvia Lee by Jean Kwok, on audio now.  I'm halfway through and really enjoying it, especially in audio format!  This is a mystery/thriller book, and a good portion of the story involves Chinese immigrants in the Netherlands.  The way those two cultures come together here is really unexpected and interesting.  I'm not completely vouching for it yet since I haven't finished, but so far it's also been fairly clean.


A Bit Of Nature


Pretty fall view.  My little white church where I grew up is down in that valley.


An Recommendation

This recommendation is a little different - I'm going to recommend you check out the makeup section at TJ Maxx.  I have two lip glosses and a lipstick that I bought from there that are name brand (Anastasia Beverly Hills and Flesh), but they cost less than half the normal price.  Just thought of that because I particularly like the Flesh lipglosses, and I never would have bought them otherwise!  So if you have a TJ Maxx near you, check it out!

A Moment Of Happiness

The kids had been outside for a while, and I didn't hear much except for occasional squeals of delight.  I was getting a little suspicious, and I went over the window to see what was making them so happy, expecting to see some mischief.

What I saw was my four big children gathered around our red wagon, positioned at the top of the hill of our driveway.  Two of the kids started pulling the wagon down the hill while one sat inside, gripping the sides.  The looks of joy on their faces, and the sun backlighting their hair...it was one of those golden moments I don't ever want to forget.

Nutrolls And Gatorade And Hunting



One of the ways I bonded with my dad growing up was through him teaching me how to hunt.

Hunting is something that has been tradition in my family for generations, and it started with necessity.  Hunting is an inexpensive way to put meat in our freezer.  My grandpa started hunting when he was a teenager for that very reason, and he and his brother taught their children how to hunt, and they taught theirs, and I guess that's where it became a tradition.  We still hunt today for mainly of the same reasons - to fill the freezer being high up on the list.

Another reason we value hunting so much, contradictory as it may seem to those who don't understand it, is because of a love for God's creation.  We love getting out in nature, seeing the sunrise, hearing which birds wake up first, finding tracks of animals we aren't even trying to find.  We do it because it's a great way to get out there, and we do it for the sake of conservation.  Many people don't realize how many animals would starve and die over the winter if their populations are too high at the start of it.  It's why there is a Division Of Wildlife - to study these things, and help keep ecosystems in proper balance.

It always irks me to see how hunters are sometimes portrayed by authors or producers who don't have a clue.  I've put books down because of a portrayal of hunters as careless idiots with guns who just want to kill something.  The ignorance is stunning to me.  The hunters I know, who I've grown up with, are some of the most careful and most respectful people you will meet with regards to firearms and nature.

When I was twelve my dad took me hunting for the first time.  I had a cow elk tag, and he woke me up early and we made the trek out into the woods.  Snow crunched under my feet, and my lungs burned with the cold morning air at the exertion.  I hung on to the straps on my dad's backpack so he could help haul me up the hill.

Every now and then he would spot a track, sometimes elk, but I remember specifically seeing mountain lion and bear tracks too.  He would whisper and point them out to me, and I'd whisper how cool it was and grin.



I got an elk on that first day of my first hunt.  It was a very exciting moment, and a particularly large elk, so it was great to contribute to the family's food like that.  But my favorite part was grinning at my dad after a successful hunt and seeing he was grinning back at me, and resting together on the snow as we split a Nutroll candy bar and drank a jug of Gatorade.

You just don't even know how good a Nutroll and Gatorade can taste until you've worked so hard for them.  I went hunting with my dad all through my growing up years, and a Nutroll and Gatorade was always our victory meal.

My dad taught Derek how to hunt, and now Derek provides for our family too through hunting, and he's planning to take our kids when they are big enough.  So the tradition continues.

I haven't been hunting since I've had kids.  It was too hard to go since we'd have to find a babysitter.  But as I watch the leaves turn and the frost returning this year, I'm feeling that itch to get out there again (not to mention the meat would help a lot in feeding five hungry kids).

Today, I don't buy Nutrolls or Gatorade.  I just can't imagine snacking on them in my living room or car.  They will forever be reserved for me as the fuel I'll pull out of my backpack, as I'm sitting on a rock in the brisk fall air after a hard morning of hunting.  That's how they taste best.




On Celebrating Small Things



This past Saturday I spent most of the day away from the house.  I had some writing to do, and took some photos for a friend who asked, but between those two things I had an hour to kill.  I went to browse a bit at Target - a dangerous endeavor, but I hardly go there anymore unless I'm by myself.

I skimmed the dollar spot, and put a few fall things into my basket.  Decorative signs, and a couple garlands, and fall stamps.  With our late vacation this year, I have had a harder time feeling fall-ish, and I think my kids have felt it too.

This morning Derek has the day off for a holiday that most people don't celebrate, and some people consider politically incorrect.  Columbus was a fallen human being for sure.  No human "hero" is going to be untarnished, because we are all sinners.  But still it remains that if he didn't bump into new lands all those centuries ago, most of us wouldn't be sitting here, would we?

All this got me thinking about the value in celebrating, and in celebrating things that might not always be deemed worthy of celebrating by everyone.  When I think of celebrating, I usually think of Christmas, or birthdays. But what about just celebrating the changing of the season with a little more fanfare and gratitude?  What about taking a rather obscure holiday to honor a controversial figure, and pull the good out of it, and make a memory over it?



So today, I'm putting out the fall decorations I bought, thankful to the Lord getting us through to another season.  Not just for getting us through but showering us with blessings along the way.   We might go fishing later, because my husband has the day off, and maybe on the way I'll break out an Adventures In Odyssey or another audio drama about Columbus.  As a reminder to my kids of the value of an adventurous spirit, and of part of the story of how we came to be living in this beautiful country.

There is value in celebrating small things, if only in making a memory together and pointing to the Lord for His blessings to us that aren't always glaringly obvious.  Small celebrations are a practice in gratitude, and I would like to get a little better at that.



Six Years Of Sparkle



My Sparkling Gwen,

Sweetheart, I am sitting down to write this and thinking over the last year with you.  You change so much from year to year, but in some ways you stay the same.  I love watching your personality shine more and more as you grow!

Your favorite thing in the world is to laugh and make other people laugh, and you are such a fun-loving little girl!  Your laugh is perfect and unique - it sounds like a creek gurgling, bells ringing, and birds tweeting all at once.  I can pick it out of a crowd, only because it is such an incredibly adorable little girl laugh!

You are really getting involved in picking your own outfits, and I love to see the combinations you come up with.  Your favorite is to wear your skirt with jeans, and I think this reflects your sweet personality.  You love playing outside, climbing on things, hanging upside down on the monkey bars, but you are not content to just wear pants.  You have to add a little sparkle and girly-ness to everything you do!

You are such a little helper - whenever I ask you kids to do something, you are the first to jump up.  You are always looking for ways to assist me, and to help anyone around you.  I love this about you so much.

I've also seen a lot of deep thinking going on in your little head this year.  You ask me such good questions about Jesus and the Bible, and how exactly everything works.  I try my best to answer all your questions, but it brings me such joy to see you thinking things through and trusting the Lord more and more as you grow.

Lately you've been expressing that you want to be just like me.  You want to grow up to be a mama, just like me.  You are dying to get your ears pierced, just like me (we are doing this for your birthday!).  The thought warms my heart, but in so many ways, I want to be more like you.

I want to have a tender heart like you do.  I want to laugh and enjoy life with the same zest as you.  I want to have a heart to serve others like you do.

I hope you grow up to take the good things you can from my example, but always know too that I think you are completely delightful just for being you.  I'll never stop loving you, my Precious Girl.  I love you more than I could ever say.

Happiest 6th Birthday, My Sweet Darling!

Love Always,

Mama




The Reason I Bought That Sweater



When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a white sweatshirt with blue stripes on it.  I learned the story later, of how she was wearing it when my dad proposed to her.  He had given her the sweatshirt and hidden her ring in the pocket.

I don't know what happened to that sweatshirt.  Eventually I must have outgrown it or ruined it, because I don't have it anymore, and I don't think it's one I would give away.  But in my memory, the light blue stripes on that sweatshirt wherever similar to another shirt.  One my mom was wearing in a faded snapshot from the 80's.

I like to think my dad or someone else in our family grabbed the camera to document how beautiful my mom looked, because she looked so young and glowing.  When I first found that photo in an old album, my mom told me she was actually pregnant with me when it was taken.





I found a sweater with very similar stripes to the ones on the shirts my mom wore when she was close to my age.  I didn't even think about it, I just bought it.

I like this sweater a lot, partly because it's cute, but majorly because it reminds me of her.

There will always be that part of me that dreams of growing up to be just like my mama.




Where I'm From


"I'm from the front pew of a wooden white church..."

I heard those words through the speaker on the way home and immediately turned up the radio, because that first line could have come straight out of my childhood.  I listened as Jason Michael Carroll sang "Where I'm From".  I resonated with almost every line.

A friend asked me last week what the best part was about living where I live, and I thought about that song, and tried to think of how I'd describe where I'm from...

I'm from a wooden white church too, nestled in plains surrounded by mountains, filled with people more like a family than a church.

I'm from a place where the aspens in the autumn take your breath away and fill the air with spice, and people drive hours just to look at them from the highway.

I'm from riding our horses across clear mountain water, the coldest water you ever tasted, because it hasn't traveled that far from the peak of a mountain.

I'm from sweater weather, and wood stoves, and hot chocolate, and golden leaves sharing space with white snowflakes on evergreen branches.

I'm from a place where you can lay in bed at night with the window open and hear owls hooting from the lodgepole pines, and elk bugling from the meadow down the hill.

I'm from a place where fall means the sweet smell of fresh cut hay, tractors hauling bales on the highway and occasionally dropping one, trucks carrying neon orange-clad men and women to the back roads, country music on the radio, and people asking where your dad goes hunting.

I'm from a place where you have your perfectly vague response perfectly rehearsed, because around here we guard our hunting spots like the Mint.

I'm from a place where my grandpa worked as a foreman for the water board, and raised his family in a tiny log house that they heated with a wood stove.

I'm from a boy who got payed a penny a log to chop wood for winter, and decided not to play football because it interfered with hunting season.

I'm from a girl who came here, fell in love with that boy in high school, and never left because she fell in love with the mountains too.

I'm from a mom who taught us how to weave wreaths out of willow branches and baskets out of pine needles, who kept the house smelling like cookies or stew, and feeling like love.

I'm from a dad who came home with cuts on his hands from hard work, whose flannel coat brought the autumn chill in with him, but somehow his hugs were still warm.

I'm from a place where people ask my maiden name and immediately know my people.

I'm from a place that pulls together after tragedy, and the speed limit signs are wrapped in ribbons for miles in remembrance.

I'm from a place where you know the names of the state troopers and which cars they drive, because they taught you driver's ed.  But you didn't have to learn to parallel park to pass, because no one does that here.

I'm from a place where the high schools feud by seeing who can paint the rock in their respective parking lots the coolest color.

I'm from tree forts, and hikes on an old railroad grade, and sleeping bags on the trampoline next to the best little brother and sister in the world, while bats flit across the stars.

I'm from a place where the wilderness is just a couple roads over.

I'm from a place that some people leave, but some people never will because they never would want to.

It's a place that gets in your blood if you stay here for any length of time.  And if you have the right kind of something inside to react to it, then it gets in your blood and stays forever, and you can never quite leave it behind again.  Maybe for a little while, but eventually you return one way or another.  Because there is no other place that feels as much like home.

I'm from a place that got in my husband's blood too, and we built a home and a family and a life up here where wild things grow.





That's where I'm from.  And like any place, some things change, things are always changing.  Some of what I've written is from my childhood and some is from now, and they are all mixed up and inseparable in my mind.  Some things don't change, and those are the pieces that have held me here.  I feel blessed that I get to raise my kids in the same place where our roots have grown so long.

So this can be where they're from too.
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