Ice Skating

Maybe we don’t want to get too serious about the January lists – not yet anyway.

Maybe we can squeeze in a little more vacation time.

Maybe we should throw the list away one afternoon and make a memory.

IMG_1972Seize the moment when the temperature is right, the ice is thick, and the kids are willing.

Dig the skates out, find the thick socks and enjoy the fresh winter air.

IMG_1965Nothing fancy. Just chore coats and warm hats and second hand skates on a farm pond.

No triple axles or anything quad.

IMG_1974Well…okay. Maybe there were a few quads. But they were unintentional ones with painful consequences.

Then we’ll top the afternoon off with hot chocolate while warming our toes in a grandma quilt.


Lists will wait, but kids grow up.

Cute Shoes/Cold Toes

DSC_0253I’ve been looking longingly at my cute shoes for several days.

It seems like it’s been months that I’ve been wearing my warm shoes to church.  You know the kind –  the black ones that allow warm socks.

To be honest – these shoes did look cute in November. They were actually appreciated in December and January.

But it’s the end of February now.

And I’m over them. And winter. And snow. And wind chill factors.

Since we had a slight spring-like thaw during the week that melted much of our snow  – I caved yesterday.

I wore my cute little flats to church – they ones that you do not wear with warm socks.  I actually wore no socks.

My husband’s eyebrows went up as I put my coat on. He might have even smiled at my gasp when the cold north wind touched the tender bare skin on my feet.

He kindly pointed out that the air temp was a balmy 20 degrees as he turned the heat on high and redirected it to the floor vents of the van.

He took one last look at my footwear and said, “Sure hope we don’t have car trouble and have to walk five miles with this wind chill.”

I smiled back – but thought to myself,  “Me too!” Because I currently couldn’t feel my toes.

They thawed slightly during church and the potluck meal that followed – but were like ice by the time we drove the thirty miles home.

I found my thickest, warmest winter socks and a comfy grandma quilt and spent the rest of the afternoon warming up with several cups of hot tea.

And today it is snowing.

Good-bye cute little flats.

We’ll try again when spring decides to stay.

Now That’s a Crazy Idea

You will never guess what I did Sunday afternoon.

It wasn’t your typical Ground Hog Day activity.

While the rest of the country was preparing for Super Bowl parties – my husband and I planted bulbs.

Yes bulbs. As in spring flowers.

spring bulbs

Yes, the ground is frozen.

Yes, there was 4 inches of snow on top.

And yes, I realize that this is an activity that most real gardeners took care of last fall. But I’m not a real gardener. I’m a real wife and mom who likes to pretend to garden and sometimes has to fly by the seat of her pants.

We had every good intention last fall. We extended the flower bed and laid out a new one. We got several bags of top soil at a rock bottom clearance price. We even bought almost 400 super cheap bulbs on clearance.

But life happened and we just never got the top soil out of the bags and in the beds. So the bulbs never made it out of their bags.

Finally – the boys just filled both bare beds with the leaf mulch they bagged up just as the snow started to fly.

My 400 bulbs were not planted.

And the top soil was still in bags – now frozen solid.

But just when it seemed like all was lost for this season – my amazing husband had a plan.

What if we raked the mulch back to expose the frozen bare ground? Then we could lay the bulbs out on the ground, put the frozen bags of top soil on top of them, and push the mulch over it all.

What a crazy idea?!

So we did it.

spring flowers

We planted 400 bulbs in less than 45 minutes – and that included pushing the wheelbarrows of frozen top soil through the snow from the machine shed to the flower beds.

We cut the plastic off the bricks of frozen dirt and laid them out like a puzzle.

And boom! We were done!

But will it work?

Time will tell.

But it does my heart happy to know that I planted a little hope for spring even as the snow is flying.

And we might have given the neighbors something to talk about. Again.

Photos by Anne Burgess and  Pam Brophy.

Something’s Wrong with this Picture…

Something’s wrong with this picture….


Easter is two weeks away and we have another snow storm in the forecast for this weekend.

My Easter decorations look out of place with my snowmen.

Easter’s too early.

Spring is too late.

And winter doesn’t want to let go.


So much for an Easter bonnet – we might as well wear our stocking caps.

This may be a year when we wear long johns under our Easter dresses and have Easter egg hunts in snow boots.

Feels more like we should be putting up a Christmas tree and singing Silent Night then having sunrise services and singing Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

But you know – it’s not all bad. We are finally getting some much needed moisture.

And when spring finally does appear, we’ll appreciate it that much more. Right?

And in the meantime – don’t put that snow shovel away just yet.

Saturday Date Night

It was a Facebook post Saturday morning that started the adventure.

Some friends are building a home in northern Missouri and had discovered a little country church nearby. They were having a Sweetheart Dinner that night – would we like to come?

Lured by the thoughts of prime rib with all the fixings, followed by an evening of gospel music – it was an easy sell.

Jan and I drove the winding country roads of southern Iowa into the alphabetical maze of back roads the makes up northern Missouri as the sun was setting over beautiful snow covered fields.

It was so peaceful.

We found the church nestled in the hills surrounded by rolling pastures, just as it had been for the last 150 years.

This faithful congregation had been serving up a free prime rib meal and gospel music to the community every February for more than a decade.

They greeted us warmly – wayfaring strangers that we were. The conversation was lively. The company fun.

And the food! Oh my! The food was abundant, delicious, and homemade – a hunk of prime rib that covered half my plate, potatoes, salad, crescent rolls, green beans and bacon, and a table full of desserts.

Then the music began.

It was nothing professional – just some friends who played really well. A man on the banjo with his eighty something year old momma on the bass and his buddy on the guitar.

Joking. Laughing. Strumming. Singing.

It was comfortable – like being invited into someone’s living room for some music.

Gospel songs. Mountain melodies. Old Hymns.

The melodies rang out of the old church on the frosty February night.

And we were a part of it.

When the music ended – we reluctantly said our good-byes and started the 45 minute drive home, navigating those same winding roads under the light of  full moon.

The snow sparkled as we held hands, the music still ringing in our ears.

And my heart smiled.

Off the Beaten Path

What a blessing to have a little more daylight at the end of every day!

Now there’s enough sunshine to enjoy a walk in the late afternoon when my husband gets home from work.

Ice, Snow, Fun 017At first we followed the trails in the pasture, sticking to the known, the usual, the predictable.

But then yesterday –  in a spur of the moment decision – we veered off the path and walked right across the ice on the pond.

You know – it’s rather freeing to stand in the middle of a frozen pond and look back at the shore.

It’s a totally new perspective.

We  continued on our walk, but this time – enjoying that taste of freedom – we left the trail and took off cross-country through the woods.

We followed deer trails and scared up bunnies as we zig-zagged around low branches.

We jumped over the ravine, discovered bobcat tracks, and watched several deer running in the distance.

Amazingly, we were just a few yards from our regular trail – but everything looked different.



Yes, that’s the word. Unexpected.

After weeks of routine –  cleaning, school, laundry, meals, groceries – it was wonderful to find something unexpected.

The trails had become predictable. We had followed them so often we know what was around every corner.

It was time to take another route, to see things from a different angle.

To feel alive again.



We just needed to step off the beaten path.

The Great Western Adventure: Winter Edition Part 2

After a very discouraging day in airports with canceled flights, driving on icy packed snow and a night in the “Hovel Hotel”, we are ready to cross the mountains to visit our first born son.

If you study a map of Colorado you will soon realize that Pagosa Springs is on the other side of the Rocky Mountains from Denver.

If you look carefully at that same map you would see that there are two mountain passes that we must cross before we find our son.

Two. In the winter. Remember me? I’m the one who freaked out on Teton Pass on a sunny day in September!

We started west out of Walsenburg and began the climb toward La Veta pass. The roads got slicker and the snow started to fly as we reached the summit and started down, very thankful that although the elevation was over 9000 feet, the grades were not steep.

We made it! Piece of cake! One pass conquered – one to go.

The roads cleared and the snow ended as we headed down. We had dry roads, clear skies, and sunshine as we drove across the high plains of Colorado.

Our spirits lifted as we settled in and enjoyed the adventure!

But we soon discovered that Colorado wasn’t done with us yet. We started the climb toward the next pass – the granddaddy of mountain passes – the infamous – the dreaded – Wolf Creek Pass.

We hit snow just outside of the city of South Pass.

It got deeper and visibility got poor.

Still we climbed.

We noticed that cars were just crawling down the mountain in the other lane – a mute reminder that it’s easier going up a mountain than coming down. At least going up we have gravity to help us stop.

We saw an accident that had just happened – it was a miracle that both drivers were still alive when you looked at the condition of the car and the position of the truck on top of the guard rail.

We reached the Summit and started the nail biting descent into Pagosa Springs. Steep 7% grades that end in a hairpin turn. Down and around the mountain.

Low gear. Top speed is twenty miles an hour. Poor visibility and the roads are snow covered.

Finally we reach the bottom and drive right out of the snow into Pagosa Springs!

As I peeled Jan’s hands off the steering wheel, I said, “Never ever again will I take that pass. Never again in a million, trillion years – especially in a snowstorm!”

We drove out to Wolf Creek Lodge and finally- finally got to see Matt!

I didn’t even cry – much. 🙂

Wolf Creek LodgeAnd he took this picture of Jan and I to prove that we made it. Notice that white stuff on the ground? Oh yeah…

We had a tour, got to meet his roommates and friends – and it started to snow – again.

I ignored it as we sat down to lunch and tried to just soak up the time with Matt. But it was getting harder to ignore – especially when the director mentioned the Winter Storm Warning that was going into effect.

I tried not to meet Jan’s eyes – because I knew what he was thinking – Wolf Creek Pass.

He talked to the director to see if there were any other options for getting out of there.  There were none. If we wanted to go home, it would be over that pass.

Graduation was at five o’clock. If we stayed for that – we would be traveling over the pass after dark – and after it had snowed all day.

If we left on Saturday – we may not make it out at all.

We said our good-byes and left.

Three hours. We traveled a day and half for three hours with Matt. 😦

And we missed graduation.

We bought some chains for the rental car before heading east out of Pagosa Springs and started climbing up that pass that I had just said I never wanted to go over again ever in my lifetime.

And I got to do it twice – in one day – in a snowstorm.

Thankfully the grade on the east side of the pass wasn’t as steep and winding as the west side, because the snow was deeper and the visibility worse.

Once again the snow stopped at the town of South Pass and we started across the high plains of Colorado in sunshine with dry roads.

Can I pause a minute here and say what an incredible man my husband is?! I was amazed at his driving skills and cool under pressure.

We drove hard and fast – making it over La Veta Pass after dark – despite the blowing snow and black ice. We just kept driving north on Interstate 25, thinking that if the roads were good – we were going to get as close to the airport as we could.

We finally got a hotel on the north side of Colorado Springs – which proved to be a wise decision since we woke up to another snow storm.


We had one more white-knuckled drive into Denver – but made it to the airport in time.

Our flight was an hour late – but considering everything else that we had gone through in the last few days – that was nothing.

Home never looked so good!

And you know – even though things didn’t go as planned, it was still a wonderful trip! I would do it again in a heartbeat – but only in July!

Post script-

We found out later that they closed Wolf Creek Pass a few hours after we got through. The other family hoping to drive home was still stranded on Sunday.

Northern New Mexico, from Albuquerque to Southern Colorado had a winter storm into the next week.  If we had stuck to our original plan – we might still be there. Some of the students who planned to travel that direction were still waiting on Tuesday.

Matt made it to Durango for his flight home on Sunday, but only after another white-knuckled drive west from Pagosa that included hitting a deer.

Remind me to avoid Colorado in the winter! 🙂

Hot Chocolate Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies It’s snowing!

No wind, no cold, just snow – lots and lots of snow!

When I see snow – I think of cross country skiing – and cross country skiing makes me cold – and when I’m cold I think of hot chocolate.

And when I think of hot chocolate I get hungry for cookies!


Those New Year’s resolutions lasted a long time didn’t they? 🙂

These were a new cookie for us this year – and a big hit whenever we shared them!

I won’t even tell you how many Aunt Julie and I ate when she was here – nope, not gonna do it. You wouldn’t believe me anyway.

These delectable little gems actually have hot chocolate mix right in the batter – along with lots of butter and 3 kinds of chocolate chips.  Yes – 3! It makes me almost giddy just thinking about it! 🙂

Hot Chocolate Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) butter – at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
4 – 1 oz packets of hot chocolate mix (or 1/2 cup) Do not use sugar-free!
1 – 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, hot chocolate mix, salt and baking soda. Add to wet ingredients slowly, making sure it is all incorporated.

Fold in all 3 kinds of chocolate chips.

Chill the dough for about an hour, then using a 1/4 cup scoop, place the dough on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly before removing from the pans. Cool on wire racks or eat them hot and gooey from the oven!


I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday over at The Well, Tuesdays at the Table over at All the Small StuffChocolate Fridays over at Knit1Kids4 and Saturday Swap over at Quit Eating Out.

Hoar Frost

The beauty of a hoar frost.

Now imagine it covering every tree, bush, fence post, mail box, even spider webs hanging from the barn eaves.

It was breath-taking.

How can anyone doubt a creator God?

Wordless Wednesday Hoarfrost

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands,Day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” Psalms 19:1-3

A Blizzard in December

It’s started to snow.

The forecasters predict at least a foot. The wind is supposed to pick up and the temperatures are starting to drop.

It’s a December blizzard.

We’ve been warned it was coming for some time. The grocery stores were packed last night as people stocked up on the staples. Hardware stores were just as busy selling ice scrapers and snow shovels.

The weatherman on the noon news said it would be a big one – one we would talk about for years to come.

Schools are closed through-out the state in preparation.

Snow plows are gassed up and ready.

But for now – the snow is falling softly and piling up fast.

And we wait.

Our worlds have stopped. The entire Midwest is frozen in time. Plans are on hold. Events canceled.

Meanwhile, families enjoy quiet time together in the midst of a busy month.

Adults take naps. Kids pull out the board games.

The frantic pace of Christmas is slowed down for awhile.

Hot chocolate is poured. Movies are watched.

And we wait.

And the snow falls.

And the wind blows.