Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ending the year with a full heart

*contented sigh*

Right now I feel a bit like know the part in Night Before Christmas where it talks about his round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly??

Yeah..that sounds about right. 

But mine would be a bowl full of ice cream...
and ham.
and peanut butter M&M's.
and rolls.
and Christmas crack.
and cinnamon rolls.
and cookies.
and milk.
and Christmas candies.
and...well, we'll just stop right there.  

But this tummy is not the only thing that feels full.  

My heart does too...

Full of joy.  
Full of gratitude.

And at a time when I would typically be sentimental (with the end of the year, Christmas being over, etc.) I feel satisfied.  Like someone who leans back in his chair during a big family meal and just relishes the moment. 

Nothing fills the soul like time celebrating Jesus, time with our families, time with friends, and time with my Love.   

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My Favorite [Christmas] Things - Food Edition

Today I'm sharing one of our newest favorite Christmas goodies - what I've affectionately named Christmas Crack. :)  Our recipe is modified from one Ryan found in the Illinois Electric Co-Op newsletter/magazine (called White Chocolate Party Mix).  

Hope you enjoy a healthy addiction (as we have!) to some Christmas Crack ;)  

Christmas Crack
7 Cups Honey Nut Chex cereal
1 bag holiday M&M's (we combined half a bag of plain and half a bag of peanut butter)
2/3 of a 15 oz bag of mini pretzels.  
1 - 16 oz jar of honey-roasted peanuts
1 - 20 oz package of almond bark (we used vanilla flavored) or 20 oz white chocolate chips 
3 Tbsp vegetable oil

Grab your Honey Nut Chex (I didn't know such a thing existed!) and measure out 7 cups.  Add the M&M's, pretzels, and peanuts in a bowl with the Chex.  
Microwave the almond bark with the oil in 1-minute increments until smooth.  Pour over the dry mixture and stir until coated...

Once coated, pour out onto a long strip of wax paper to let dry.  

Once dry, break into pieces and savor! :)


Saturday, December 8, 2012

My favorite [Christmas] Things - Round 1

Maria had her favorite things in the Sound of Music - Rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...lovely and simple pleasures. 

And on a much larger (and commercial) scale  - 
Every year Oprah releases her "Favorite Things" list.  This year her list has included soap sets, an elliptical, sweaters, jewelry, and Michael Kors studded high top shoes, among other things.  

This year, I thought I'd share a few of my "favorite things" related to Christmastime.  

Today, I want to share with you an Advent Bible reading list that I have found helps me reflect on Christ as well as the way God orchestrated His entrance into our world as a remedy for our sinful situation.    

This reading list is for 25 days...the days leading up to and including Christmas.  I stumbled upon the full list (which is for 4 whole weeks) a few years ago, but for the likes of me, I can't remember where.  So I want to be clear - this does not originate with me.  But I simply want to pass along a good thing. EnJOY!

1. Isaiah 40:1-11
2. Isaiah 52:7-10
3. Genesis 3:8-15
4. Genesis 15:1-6
5. Deuteronomy 18:15-19
6. Psalm 89:1-4
7. Isaiah 11:1-10
8. Zechariah 6:12-13
9. Micah 5:2-4
10. Malachi 3:1-6
11. John 1:1-8
12. John 1:9-18
13. Mark 1:1-3
14. Luke 1:5-13
15. Luke 1:14-17
16. Luke 1:18-25
17. Luke 1:39-45
18. Luke 1:46-56
19. Luke 1:57-66
20. Luke 1:67-80
21. Isaiah 7:10-14
22. Luke 1:26-35
23. Isaiah 9:2-7
24. Matthew 1:18-25
25. Luke 2:1-20

Friday, November 30, 2012

our little country Christmas tree

Ryan and I have made it a tradition the last couple years to get our Christmas tree from the wild and overgrown fields near his farm.  We love that the trees are free (!) and that they are fresh and rustic. 
The process is really a hunt.  We're looking for the diamond in the rough.  The beauty that has an unusually lovely shape and character given its rough surroundings and environment.  

So last Sunday Ryan and I piled into his big truck and took off for the field.  I immediately spotted what I thought was a good candidate.  But after some deliberation, we decided to keep going.  And on and on we rolled...through waist-high weeds and thorny brush, past countless cedar trees.  Our conversation went about like this -

"Hmm, what do you think about that one?"  "It's a little thin...let's keep going."
"See that one over there...the tall one...what do you think?"  "Hmm...I think we can find better."
"Now here's an option."  "It's not bad, but I'm not sold yet."  

And here's Ryan enthusiastically partaking in the hunt...

This went on for a good 15 minutes.  When we were about ready to go back to one that we'd passed a bit before, we stumbled upon "The One"...Somewhat petite, symmetrical, and green.  Looking closer, it even had a few blue berries.  That's the One!  
(It looks like she's got a crazy top, but that's just another tree behind her)

Here we are together. :)


Did I mention that one benefit of a wild cedar is its open branch structure and light weight?  
But of course, this one was very, very heavy.  It just looks light because my man's so strong. :)  
yep. that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. 

So anyway, we brought her home, cleaned out a few of the dead branches and things that tend to compile when you're a tree in the middle of fallow field, and set her on the stand.  

After a few lights, some ribbon, and ornaments, she has lit up our home and hearts. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Carpe Di-HEN

Many of us are familiar with the latin phrase "carpe diem" meaning "seize the day."  

'Round these here parts, we Carpe Di-hen...this is how the chicks "seize the day!" 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Faithful One

So back in September, one of our black lab mixes was revealed as the true terrorist that she is - hunting down and consuming two of our dear sweet hens.  (See here for the back story.) It's not that we don't love Kinzie, but she had to go.  
So, as some of you know, Casey, the faithful and meek lab, remained with us and the chickens.  

Casey now has three hallmarks of an only dog.  

First, she expects copious amounts of attention.  This manifests in a very specific pattern of behavior - when Ryan or I walk outside, she scampers ahead, throws her body on the ground, contorts her back and legs to ensure optimum belly is exposed, and waits expectantly for a belly rub.   More often than not, Ryan and I will indulge Her Sweetness with a quick scratch on her belly or chest.  I realize this is only reinforcing the behavior...operant conditioning at its finest.  But what can I say?
I'm Lindsey. And I'm an addicted dog belly scratcher.

Second, when I get home from work or from being away, Casey is my shadow.  She'll greet me at the garage, scamper ahead to the lawn, throw herself down for the above-mentioned belly rub, then after I go in the front door, she'll race around the front of the house, onto the porch to meet me at our kitchen/deck door.  
Here she is on Saturday, after I got home from getting groceries.   
I wove wou. 

And finally, Casey likes to be as close as possible to Ryan and me at all times.  Besides greeting me at the kitchen door (where she then lays down to curl up), she sleeps in the corner of the house closest to our bedroom.  While some may think this a coincidence, I believe otherwise.  When both Casey and Kinzie were here, they both slept out in a shed on the other side of the house.  Casey continued sleeping there for awhile, but eventually moved to the corner of the house outside of our bedroom.  It's sweet...for an outdoor dog, it's the closest she'll ever get to sleeping at the foot of our bed.  

Now, if we could only get her to stay there all night rather than waking up and barking at the non-existent threat that seems to capture her attention between the hours of 2 and 4AM. 
Hmm...we'll have to work on that.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

In the Spirit...

This morning, Ryan and I got our bodies out of bed (him before me) and headed west to Missouri.  Yesterday he had started using the turbo disk to till the fields his dad farms over there.  When those fields are done, that will wrap up the tillage work they plan to do this fall.  Here is my beloved in front of "Big Blue" and the turbo disk this morning.  

As it would happen, I had been doing some tilling of my own.  Albeit, on a far smaller scale. Here's the "red devil" I used to till up the garden yesterday afternoon.  

I'd like to be able to say that I showed her who's know...Mad Dog style...really tore her into the ground...
but, then, that might not be completely honest.

So anyway, Ryan and I had an interesting conversation on the way over to Missouri about why we till the ground.  Having a degree in Agricultural Science, he talked about microbes and chemical processes...the importance of nitrogen, etc., etc.  But the gist of it is that tilling breaks up and turns over the old "residue" (whatever's left of the old crops - stalks, leaves, etc) in order for it to be broken down into organic matter that will provide nutrient-rich soil for next year's crop.  God's handiwork at it's best...the waste naturally turns into the food...pretty cool.  

Fast forward to this afternoon.  Things were just not going my way.  I will spare you the details, but it was just one of those times when you feel like everything...seriously...e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. is not going according to plan (*Holla out to all my homies with Type-A tendencies...Here! Here! to To-Do lists, schedules, and plans!).   

Put plainly, I was struggling to keep a good attitude.  While driving home (after I had finally gotten all I needed from the grocery store..the 2nd time), I was at a juncture..."two roads diverged in a wood"-type stuff...
My thought process went about like this...

*deep breathing* 
Ok, if I let [my frustration] go, it's going to ruin the rest of my day.  

I really didn't want to lose the day to my frustration.  By God's grace, I remembered the Bible study our small group did last spring - Lord, Change My Attitude (highly recommended!).  In it, James MacDonald proposes replacing certain attitudes with others.  Namely (and most applicable to me in this moment of acute emotional distress), replacing a complaining attitude with a thankful one.  

Ok, I thought. How can I cultivate a thankful heart?  

I began thinking of things I'm thankful for...especially related to the things that had "gone wrong" in my afternoon.  

And then my spastic brain made a the farming world, cultivating is essentially tilling.  That got me to thinking...what does tilling up our hearts look like??  

From my time in the garden yesterday, I knew how vicious the red devil was in taking down old stumps and turning over the soil, making it ready for new growth. I imagined the part of my heart that is prone to be easily frustrated...I imagined it being ripped out and violently buried in the soil...being broken down by God's Spirit...and prepared for new growth.

So, in the Spirit of ...

Fall Tillage


and most importantly, Christ Jesus

This Thanksgiving I am tilling up the soil of my heart and asking God to produce from it a harvest of gratitude.  

Thank you, Lord, for saving my day and for saving me. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

One Reason Why I L.O.V.E. being an Oodling

One of the supreme joys of having nephews and nieces is Oodling over the sweet babes.  ("Oodling" is an official term, defined officially as "the action of hysterical hugging, cheek-pinching, laughing, and at times, arm-flapping, erupting from feelings of pure adoration and soul-quaking excitement.")
Ryan and I are so blessed to have three nephews.  They are the cutest and sweetest children. Ever.  
But you know, we're biased.  
I'm sure you feel that way about your nieces, nephews, or children.  As you should.

But, I must say, my soul was particularly delighted today getting to see (in person or in pictures) our precious nephews in their Halloween costumes. 

Here are the lads with their parents...

The Barkers were trick-or-treating with Tigger.

The force be with you, Max. (Dressed as Yoda)

The Burkes just monkeying around.

I was in a complete state of Oodling paralysis.  
And can't you see why?!?!! Quite the predicament.  
Ryan fanned my face and gave me bowlfuls of ice cream to eat...I eventually pulled through intact.  

Have you experienced Oodling over your nephews??  Nieces?  Precious children of your own?  What did they dress as for Halloween?  

Some things in life are just too rich for words. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Checked Off

Within the last week, two things have been checked off our To-Do list.  

First, last Wednesday, Ryan and his dad finished harvest.  

This always precedes a big sigh of satisfaction and relief.  While farmers do love harvest, they also like having it finished with the crops in the bin or sold.  
For farm wives, the end of harvest heralds the return of your beloved from the field....the end of the super long hours...more dinners and evenings together...happiness.  

So long, Harvest, we'll see ya next fall.  

Second, we completed our Amazing Race application video.  We had a blast...seriously - A BLAST - making the video with Ryan's sister and brother-in-law, Laura and Brandon.  We got to visit them this past weekend in northern Illinois.  We laughed, joked, pondered, laughed some more....and that was just breakfast.  They were exceedingly gracious hosts and producers of our video.  

Here are a couple still photos captured from our video...

If we do make it on the Amazing'll be the first...well, maybe 12th, to know. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two Developments

Development #1

Much to my surprise on Wednesday, Ryan received a fairly large package.  But neither of us recognized the name on the return label and it was sealed with zebra-print duct tape. 
That's odd.
Ryan proceeded to open up the box.  Harkening back the anthrax days of 2001, I decided to step away.  Ryan jokingly said, "What if it's a bomb?!!" And I took another step back.  Or two.  
Ryan - "What are you stepping away for?"
Me - "Well, what if it is a bomb?"
Ryan - "Oh my."

From a few feet away, I watched Ryan open up the package and pull out an Apple charging cord.  
Hmm..this is really odd.  My mind began to wonder if somehow we'd been sent someone else's package.  
Ryan proceeded to pull out an Apple laptop and I was really perplexed.  
What if this is someone else's package?? 
Then I remembered that it specifically had Ryan's name on it.  
It was meant for Ryan.
Then I started putting the pieces together.  
"Baby, is this for us?....Baby, did you order this?? this for real?? IS IT??? IS IT???" 
Ryan - "It's your Mac."
Me - *Vigorous jumping up and down and assaulting of Ryan*

So, that whole story is to say that I've officially joined the world of Mac-users.  And I'm pretty excited about it.  

Maybe I should get an Apple sticker for my car.  

Hmm..but then I might feel compelled to wear dark plastic-rimmed glasses, go to Starbucks every afternoon, wear skinny jeans all the time, and trade the Volvo for a Prius.  

Hmm...I think I'll pass.  This one seems more appropriate...

Development #2

As it was previously mentioned, Ryan and I are huge fans of Amazing Race.  We recently found out that CBS is accepting applications for the next season through November 7th.  So, we have decided to throw our hat into the ring (nod to our political climate) for the 23rd season of Amazing Race.  

We will be working on our application video soon, and we would love your ideas on what would make a good video!  Please share.  

That's all for now.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Things Girls Do

What's a girl to do on a rainy, windy fall day?  Curl up next to the fireplace.
But if she's got no fireplace?  Well, the next obvious choice is to bake.  Throw together some tasty treat and curl up next to that warm oven.  

Let's be honest...It's really not the same.  Fireplaces, preferably wood-burning, are in a league of their own in terms of providing warmth (both in temperature and in ambiance) to a home.  But I truly enjoy baking and Ryan enjoys the fruits of my baking.  And as far as it being a thing girls do...many men enjoy baking, and I hope they enjoy the luscious morsel I'm going to share with you today.  

Say "hello" to Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crumble Muffins.  

This combination came to me over the course of the last week.  Our dear friend from church, Janet, made this recipe from Country Living - Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Muffins - for our small group.  I ate two at small group and took two more home for breakfast the next day.   Seriously...they were delicious.  

Then yesterday my co-worker told me about a pumpkin streusel muffin that she got from a local bakery.  With topping like an apple pie, but on a pumpkin muffin.  That got my wheels a-turnin'.  

Could the rich creaminess of the cream cheese muffin be paired with the crumbly sugary 
streusel goodness?? This could go down in history along with a long line of famous duos - 

Lavern and Shirley
Lucy and Desi
Jack and Jill (haven't you heard?? They went up the hill)
Kermit and Miss Piggy
Scrambled eggs and cheese
Case and IH
Peanut Butter and M&Ms (now what we call Peanut Butter M&Ms)
Oh yes.  This could be monumental.  This could be providential.  This could be epic.  
It is MTB - Meant to Be.  

A disclaimer - This is a multi-bowl recipe.  I know. I know.  My heart sank, too, when I thought about the clean up of multiple bowls.  But it's worth it.  That's all I'm sayin'.  

Below is the recipe I used.  It is tweaked from the Country Living recipe.  (I should mention that the CL recipe does include a small crumb topping, but not enough in my opinion.)  

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crumble Muffins (AKA Sweet Nectar of Heaven)
(Makes 24 muffins)


8 oz cream cheese (softened)
3 eggs
2 cups + 3 Tbsp. white sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups solid-packed pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Crumb Topping -
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup. whole oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 Tbsp. butter
Pecan pieces to taste (optional)

Here we go...
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease muffin tins (I substituted an angel food cake pan for one of the muffin tins to make a coffee cake) with oil.  
In a small bowl beat the cream cheese, one egg, and 3 Tbsp. sugar until smooth. Set aside.  In a large bowl combine the white sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and 2 tsp. cinnamon.  In a separate bowl (this is the multi-bowl part I was talking about) beat 2 eggs with the pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a fork until moistened.  

Fill each muffin cup using half of the pumpkin batter.  Then spoon a dollop (that's exact) of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin cup.  Use a knife or toothpick to swirl the pumpkin and cream cheese mixin' here.  We just want to swwwiiiirrrllll... 

Top with the remaining pumpkin mixture.  

Next combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon for the crumb topping.  Using a pastry blender (or fork or potato masher or your chewed-off finger nails...basically, whatever you've got) cut in the butter.  Add pecans if desired.  

Add crumb topping to the muffins...

Throw 'em in the prepared oven for about 15 minutes.  The original recipe said 20-25.  I took mine out at 17 minutes and they were a bit more done than I'd like.  I would check them at least at 13 minutes just to ensure these precious gems don't get too done.  

And Wha-La! 

Pour yourself some cider and savor a taste of autumn...all baked right into the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Crumble Muffins. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Things Boys Do

Boys like to do fast things....

With powerful machines....

That push the limit...
*Enter the Four-Wheeler*

To celebrate Ryan's 30th birthday, I joined Ryan and his friend, Erik, for some four-wheeling  at Finger Lakes State Park north of Columbia, Missouri.  The day was gorgeous - sunny, 60's, the leaves were just changing - Autumn was showing off.  

Ryan was pumped and primed.  I, on the other hand, was probably the color of dirty dishwater and had no fingernails to speak of once we arrived at the park.  Oh boy, I was nervous.  Now this could have had something to do with the fact that I had only driven a four-wheeler once before.  Ever.  In my life.  Yes, just once.  We call this learning through immersion.   

Ryan reviewed with me how to turn on...(yes, I didn't know) the beast.  We reviewed basic maneuvers and of course, I became very friendly with the brake.  Hello, Brake, you're my new best friend. (Just a side note to say that at this specific point my bladder control, and dignity, were seriously in question...)

This is the look of terror...
And check out the helmet...I look like Darth Vader's daughter.    

Luke, I am your sister. *labored Vader breathing*

But I digress...

Here's Ry - 
My fearless leader.

So anyway, we took a test run, went back to meet Erik, I whispered a final prayer for mercy, and we were off........


The boys graciously didn't go too fast and they allowed me to be in the middle of the pack.  We went over rocks, downed trees, over and down hills that I seriously thought were not possible for a four-wheeler to run.  
 (It only appears as though I'm going to hit the tree)

Oh...and then there were the mud holes.  
I L.O.V.E.D. the mud holes.  


Because it felt pretty cool to go through and throw up such a nasty splash.  But most importantly...I knew when I was going through a mud hole that I wasn't going to roll, flip, or hit a tree.  
For the briefest of moments my heart was at ease.  

Here Ryan and Erik are showing what they're made of...

And taking a quick break to repair my flag...

By the evening we had traversed what had to have been miles of trails but what was really only 1/3 to 1/2 of the park.  

We decided to call it quits and head home.  

All in all, I made it out in one piece...without a stretcher.  
And it was fun.  Really fun.  

I guess I kinda like the things boys do.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Miscellaneous Tidbits

Well, here are a few miscellaneous updates from the farmstead - 

1. Our brood is down to nine. How could this be?!?!  I know, such tragedy is hard to bear.  *sniff*  
No really...we're doing ok with handling such a blow... 
*soft sobbs* ...
*soft sobbs turn to ugly crying*

Really...Really...I'm doing ok...I'm working through the stages of grief...I was in denial up until 8:30AM this morning... but I'm on my way toward resolution.  I should be there by Tuesday.  *sniff*  

So here's the story...Last Friday our suspicions were confirmed - Kinzie was the chicken assassin.  I was casually washing a few dishes when I glanced out the window around dusk.  And what should I see? Kinzie, at the edge of our a heap of SOMETHING!!  This cannot be happening, I thought.  So I flamed out the back door and past our precious other dog, Casey. And horror of horrors - in front of Kinzie, amid a bounty of auburn feathers, lies a Red, open from stem to stern.  And Kinzie, being the nonsensical dog she is, sat up and started wagging her tail.  "BAD DOG!! BAD DOG!!" I said with all the sternness in my body.  Her tail continued to wag.  


(that was me, not the dog.)

2. I've been asked by some for a picture of our house (more correctly, the house we rent).  So here it is... 
Some have called it the Red Roof Inn...but we like to call it home. 

3. AMAZING RACE STARTS TOMORROW!!! *All hearts rejoice*  

Yes, get ready for the premier of Amazing Race, season 21, which will start tomorrow (8/30), at 7PM (Central, 8PM for you folks in the Eastern time zone). 

This is consistently THE show Ryan and I always try to watch...every week.  And I think you'd enjoy it too! 

4.  Last, and most important, my Beloved's birthday is this upcoming Wednesday (10/3). I'll give you a hint as to how old he'll be...Take the number of pictures below times 10.  

(He is a sight to behold, if I do say so myself.)

 Equal parts masculine, sweet, and cool.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Harvest Hoedown

Leaves are changing, the weather's coolin',
Fall's a-comin' 'roun'.
Sit back for a lesson in rural (Agri) culture,
It's time for the harvest hoedown.

Swing your farmer to the combine,
This giant Transformer is key.
Pick your head - either corn or bean,
Then headin' to the field you'll be.

But don't get ahead or jump to fast, 
some jargon you must know - 
Corn is "shelled" and beans are "cut",
it depends on the seed you sow.  

The combine does three things in one-
it reaps, threshes and winnows.
Separating grain from chaff,
we could all sing along with banjos.  

Now it's time for the tractor promenade - 

The combine bows to the wagon.
The wagon curtsy's back.
With a turn and a twist, and a do-si-do,
The grain is transferred - whack!! 

The tractor pulls the wagon full,
to its new partner in this jubilee.
The wagon alongside the semi runs
to auger off its bounty of botany.

The semi, not such a nimble thing,
Is next in our autumn dance.
It takes the grain to a bin or elevator,
to keep while the price will enhance! (hopefully!)

These steps repeat many times each day.
The farmers spin and the farmers sway.
'Til headin' home real late each night,
Little sleep is the farmers' blight.  

Kissin' their wives, g'mornin' and g'night.  
The farmer is busy and always a-flight! 
Doin' this dance, they can't slow down,
Runnin' to do the Harvest Hoedown!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Man Down

Or more aptly put, Chicken down.

Ryan came in tonight around 11:00PM from working in the field.  His first question to me was, "What's with all the chicken feathers in the front yard?"  
I was confused but not alarmed.  
"I'm sorry?!?" I responded.
Ryan - "There's chicken feathers in the front lawn...It looks like one of the Barred Rocks."  
Me - "Hmm..that's odd" *still not alarmed or concerned* "I shut them in earlier."
Ryan - "Were they all there?"
Me - "Yeah." - *seriously not thinking twice at this point that something could have been amiss.* "Well, I actually don't know for sure.  I didn't count them, I just closed the door."
Ryan - "I'm going to go count them."  

It must be noted here that Ryan and I have two different styles of parenting our chickens.  I, the under-achieving caretaker, simply close the coop door when I go out at night.  Ryan, the conscientious caretaker, counts to make sure each chicken is in the coop.  Up until this night, all 11 chickens were tucked-in safe and secure.  

But then tonight happened.  What exactly happened is still unclear.  

Ryan confirmed that only 10 chickens were in the coop.  
I started to have that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.  
How could this have happened?  We were doing so well at keeping our chickens alive!
I felt completely responsible for the missing chicken.  I had closed them in for the night without confirming all chicks were accounted for.  

Ryan took me to front door and flipped on the porch light to show me the pile of feathers.  To add insult to injury, Kinzie, our beloved (I use thick sarcasm here) black lab mix, is laying on top of the pile of feathers, chewing on a partially exposed chicken wing.  
Ryan - "I think our dogs have a dark side."
*sigh of sadness*

It was clear from the pile of feathers...and other stuff...that the Barred Rock was not coming back.  

And here is the suspected culprit's mug shot - Sitting pretty and playing innocent.  

At this point not much is known for sure - We are not quite sure of what happened, when it happened, and whether the unfortunate bird was Betsy, Izzie, or Mrs. Butterworth.  
What we do know - We know she's not comin' back and our brood is down to 10.


Friday, September 14, 2012


I'm hopelessly sentimental.  I relish romantic movies, old couples holding hands, and hugs that bring a smile to your heart as well as your face.  Last weekend I witnessed one of the more heart-warming things I have seen in awhile.  

I was traveling and stopped at one of those government-run rest areas - you know, the ones with vending machines and brochures on state parks.  I needed to go to the bathroom and stretch my legs.  As I walked up to the door of the women's restroom, I was startled to meet the back of an elderly man, hunched-over, peering in.  
I was puzzled.  Hmm...
Not wanting to jump to scandalous conclusions, I said simply, "Excuse me."  
And I thought I was surprised!  He jumped and the tall, slender, bespectacled gentleman fumbled, "Oh..oh, excuse me.  I'm just watching to make sure my wife is alright."  
I asked if she needed help.  
He turned and hollered into the ladies restroom - "Lois, are you alright?"  
A faint, "yes," came in response.  
As he moved away from the door for me to go in, I spotted what I guessed was Lois' stall - red wool-socked feet with Easy Spirit sandals and walker legs with tennis balls could be seen beneath the stall door.  I went about my business and as I left, I passed the sweet elderly gentleman waiting patiently outside the restroom.  

I thought to myself, How precious is that?! That sweet man - patient and steady- just wanted to make sure his wife was alright.  He didn't care about appearances.  His love was unabashed.   

I smiled as I walked to my car, thinking of Ryan and me as an old elderly couple - Ryan hollering to make sure I'm doing alright in the restroom, pushing our walkers side-by-side, holding each others' old arthritic hands.  

Perhaps God was subtly giving me a glimpse of a what our future might be like one day.  Only God knows.  
But perhaps it was foreshadowing. 

As my thoughts have the tendency to do, especially when I'm driving, they continued to wander.  I thought of my relationship with Ryan and how God had in small, discrete ways foreshadowed, or perhaps, prepared me for Ryan and life on the farm.  

I thought of Leona, the sweet white-haired woman at my church growing up, that once told me she was praying for my future husband.  She told me directly and with emphasis, "Now I'm praying for someone tall, dark, and handsome!"  And I said, "Amen to that, Leona!" Thank you, Leona, for your faithful prayers.  The Lord delivered on each of those requests! :)  

I thought of when I told my sisters that I didn't want to marry someone short.  I wanted to marry someone tall...someone with whom I could wear all of my cute heels and boots.  Years later, in walks Ryan, measuring in at 6'7".  

I thought of how after both my sisters were married in 2006 and 2007 to men with the last names starting with "B" and "H", I guessed that someday I would marry someone with a last name that started with a letter at the end of the alphabet.  In January of this year I was welcomed by the kids at the back of the line when I took the name "Wood".  

And finally, I thought of the time I told my mom that cornfields felt like home.  At the time, I was living in Arkansas and was homesick for the familiar.  It never did cross my mind that in a few short years I would be surrounded by cornfields on every side. 

I guess sometimes we get a taste of what's to come.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wrapping up & Gearing up

August has come to a close and we are at the doorstep of Labor Day - what the young and young-at-heart recognize as the end of summer as we know it.  
Auf Wiedersehen to long evenings and endless sunshine.  
Good-bye to that carefree, laid-back attitude.
Hasta La vista, Baby, to beach balls and swim suits.  

I'll miss you, Summer.  *sniff*

*ugly cry*


Ryan and I are bidding summer "adieu" with his family on a vacation in gorgeous, yet quaint Galena, Illinois.  However, to kick off the weekend, on Friday, the boys all took part in the Nascar driving experience in Joliet, Illinois.  Here are a few pics of the fast-paced feat.


He was a pretty happy lover-of-fast & powerful-things afterwards.  His lap average was 145.7 mph.  

And since then, we've been chill-axing, sight-seeing, applesauce-making, boating, and celebrating two very special birthdays (Ryan's sister, Carrie, and Brother-in-law, Bill).  Did I mention we've been eating scotcharoos??  Those very wrong, but wrong in a right-sort of way, peanut-buttery, corn-syrupy, rice-krispie, chocolate & butterscotch-topped decadent morsels.  (Just a side note - Scotcharoos should really have their own Facebook page...or the U.S. should celebrate Scotcharoo Day.  Just sayin'...they're that good.)

Where was I??  I lost myself in the Scotcharoo goodness.  

oh yes...
So last week before we left for all of this fun, Ryan and his dad started Harvest. 

Ask any Ol' Timer, and he'll pull out his tooth pick and put in his dentures to tell you that this is one early harvest.  Last year all the talk was about the early harvest in September!  Who knew this year we'd have combines in the field in August!!!  

So as vacations and fun in the sun wrap up, we are gearing up for the rest of harvest.
And of course, for all of those things that *are Autumn*.

hay-rack rides. 
crisp air.
hot apple cider.  
football games.
snuggling under blankets.
combine lights in the cornfield at night.

Oh, Autumn, how I've missed you.    

So long, Summa!!!