Extended Family



All of todays photos are from the hike I took on Sunday afternoon just before the polar vortex hit.  As it is -20 ish as I type, I’m thinking my timing was pretty great.  I’d love to get back up Cottonwood Canyon with my camera and document the changes over the past three days, but . . . I’m just not crazy enough to do that in this frigid weather.


So instead I’ll focus on being grateful and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll go for an indoor walk at the mall.

I do have much to be thankful for and a loving and caring God who provides so very much.  These details are absolute assurance to me that he loves and cares for me specifically – how else would all these blessings come into my life?


3676.  Live in housesitter so we can take a trip and the animals will be cared for

3677.  Dinner and photos share with Brett and Roberta

3678.  Safe travels to and from Cody with no car issues.

3679.  Beauty of two different parts of Yellowstone seen on weekend travels through the park.

3680.  Sharing time with the Becker clan.


3681.  Good meaty discussion with J in the car as we travel.

3682.  Arriving home to a clean house.

3683.  Beautiful sun drenched morning photographing Julia

3684.  Walking and talking with Elizabeth on the phone.

3685.  Beautiful fall weather

3686.  J’s grades holding steady where he wants them.


3687.  Phone call with Daniel and Stacy

3688.  Danielle likes youth group.

3689.  Freedom for a client who sat in jail a long time before justice came his way.

3690.  Strength shown by Miss M. in a difficult situation.

3691.  Chance to learn more about photography.

3692. Great inspiring blog post by Ann Voskamp


3693.  Homemade apple sauce for breakfast.

3694.  Friendships in the school community

3695.  20 young chickens for free

3696.  Unexpected evening home watching game 7 as a family – and the Giants won making my boy so happy!\

3697.  Beautiful sunsets several days in a row.

3698.  Tank’s ability to help find missing little chickens


3699.  Looking forward to Advent

3700.  Variety of little chickens and how much Tank loves them.

3701.  Success in court for dear friends.

3702.  Referral of a new case that highlights Andy’s skills and faith.

3703.  Supportive phone calls from friends on a down day.

3704.  Second visit with the Becker clan – this time at our house.

3705.  New cases to replace those that are wrapping up.

3706.  Honesty/transparency character of the folks in our Bible Study group


3707.  Warm clothes to wear as the weather turns.

3708.  Fun watching the chickens around the yard.

3709.  Great positive feedback from teachers at parent teacher conferences.

3710.  Misty sunrise

3711.  Chickens surviving in bitter cold

3712.  Hike up Cottonwood Canyon before the snow flies.

3713.  Paul not injured in an accident sliding off the ice.

3714.  Having enough to get bills paid without stress.

3715.  Significant progress on over coming debt burden


Categories: Autumn, berries, Blessings, chickens, Cottonwood Canyon, Daily life, Extended Family, Faith, Fall, Fall leaves, gratitude, Hiking, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, Thankful to God, Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


There is so much to be thankful for in this life  and I don’t ever want to forget it.


3628.  A day at home doing chores as a family.

3629.  Good family walk/talk.

3630.  J joining the adults to celebrate a 75th birthday party after being specially invited by the birthday girl.

3631.  Studying the Christmas story in detail.

3632.  Forgiveness from friends after a mis-step.

3633.  Support from Andy in an emotionally difficult time.

3634.  Connecting with Alicia.


3635.  Plenty of rain to keep the countryside fresh and green well into the fall.

3636.  Bumper crop of apples – enough to share with friends

3637.  J getting to participate in homecoming traditions for first time.

3638.  Good advice from Jeremy.

3639.  Knowledge that God is in control when things seem to be flying out of control.

3640.  Paul’s good music leadership at worship.



3641.  Cooking with fresh eggs

3642.  Beautiful place to live all year-long – stunning views of storms coming in.

3643.  Family who lives close enough to visit for a weekend.


Categories: Autumn, Daily life, Extended Family, Faith, Fall, Gallatin River, gratitude, J, Montana, Multitude on Mondays, Outdoors, Photography, River, Thankful to God | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Had to learn to spell this word to make it my word of the year.  (Learning something goes along with the family word, so I’m okay with that).sm-8234

My first word for a year was Proactive, and it was such a success that I thought I’d revisit a portion of the concept this year with Initiate.

I envision this word reminding me not to just think and dream, but to do.  Start the things I want to do.  I find that I’ll think of an idea and then freeze.  Maybe I wonder around the house, look at the items needed to implement the job, and not do anything.  Sometimes I do that so long I forget the idea and nothing ever happens.sm-8236

This happens with my interactions with people too.  I get shy and don’t mention, invite or comment, and the conversation never happens. I need to initiate the contact, conversation, interaction rather than wish I had.

The dictionary says that initiate means “to cause  or facilitate the beginning of” – yep, that is what I want to do.  I can’t necessarily control the out come, but I can get it started.sm-2798

This year I want to initiate the ideas.  Who knows, maybe the implementation will take a different direction that I originally thought, but it will go somewhere.

My first act of initiating?  Well, these photos sprinkled throughout this post.sm-2800

See the first two I took way back when we had the cold snap here at the beginning of December.  They are photos of ice dams that formed on the Gallatin River and some of the results.  I heard about the issue on the news and drove over there one morning on my way into town just to check it out.  What was significant was that these photos are all of the property of my brother’s former boss – and I would say his friend.  The building was where my brother worked many days (before the shop got moved to a new location).  Anyway, my thought at the time was “I should post these on the blog because I’m sure Daniel would be interested to know what was happening to Russ and Lorie’s property.  But I never did anything.sm-2801

Today Andy and I were back over that way for a little walk and I took the rest of the photos in this post.  I was shocked to see that the ice dams have not cleared, that part of the river is still clogged, and the water is flowing on Russ and Lorie’s property as well as on many of their neighbor’s properties.   While there is a beauty to the river, and it looks like Russ and Lorie’s actual house is still livable, the damage to property is stunning, and still in progress.  (Daniel helped to do a major remodel on that house and if it flooded it would be ruining some of his handiwork as well as really harming our friends and their family).sm-2821

So, Daniel, these shots are for you, and I am initiating (better late than never) showing them to you by posting them here on my blog.  An idea delayed, but not forgotten!   I haven’t spoken to Russ or Lorie, but it appears their house itself stayed dry and is being lived in through this mess.sm-2822

That is what I’m hoping for with this word.

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Gallatin River, initiate, Learning, One Little Word, Outdoors, Photography, proactive, River, snow, Winter | 2 Comments


It takes a bit of courage to go to the fissures in Yosemite.  And a little hike to get there.IMG_7094SM

Most people don’t know where it is or how to get there – except the photos show it is obviously on the south side of the valley and way high up.



It gets its name from the cracks in the rock platform that is literally 3000 feet above the valley floor.  IMG_7158sm


Believe me when I say that when you look down it is all down.  Hard to keep from panicking even when you are perfectly safe laying down on your tummy.IMG_7170sm


You can see El Capitan and Yosemite falls from up there – you’re looking down on them.


There aren’t a lot of safety bars, so it is not a place for the faint of heart or children who are not well under control – a complement to my cousin’s family as we took young children up there and they all behaved very well.  And it is a good thing they were so well-behaved, because the adults were all going to have heart attacks and die right there if any of them didn’t obey and got too close to the edge or didn’t step back when told to do so.


Different people have different techniques for handling the nerve-wracking views – I encourage the crawl out on your belly so you are safe like a snake.IMG_7216sm



Apparently Andy is willing to get up off his belly and lean over, creating two good views – the valley and, well, you know.

There is a bit of wild life up there as well – saw this guy hanging on the edge – literally, and was amazed he didn’t fall off.




Hope you enjoy the view!

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Family Fun, J, kids, Outdoors, Photography, Travel, Vacation, Yosemite | 2 Comments



Blogging the last couple of weeks as taken a back seat to other adventures.  I can’t even remember if I blogged the week before Easter, but I do remember that I spent that week sick – 5 days of fever and cough, followed by continued rattle-cough.  Missed Easter services and everything.

Then on Monday I quickly got billing at the office done so that me and my cough could head off to California early Tuesday morning to visit my in-laws who were in need of a bit of TLC after a fall, broken elbow, surgery and recovery.    The driving, cooking, cleaning and talking  that were my duties were a complete joy – my in-laws are very pleasant to be around.  I also had the added benefit of seeing my sister EKL and my dad and step-mom, who provided my transportation to and from the airport on the California end since my in-laws were not available to do any driving like that.


Now I’m home with an SD card full of East Bay spring flowers to process and big ol’ snow flakes blowing by the window at a 45 degree angle.  After 5 days in the full spring of the Bay Area where the colors practically blind you with their brilliance the grey/brown/barely a green tinge feels so drab and cold, but it is homeI have to admit that somehow this morning’s walk at 32 degrees was not the thrill the morning walks in shorts were the last four mornings.

IMG_4086smBut this is where my boys are – all four of them (Andy, J, Leo and Tank).  So good to see them after five full days away!  Lots to catch up on with house cleaning, cooking and work at the office, but I hope to post a few of those flower photos that California provided.

Categories: Andy's Family, Daily life, Extended Family, Family Fun, Outdoors, Photography, River, Spring, Travel | 1 Comment


Continuing with yesterday’s theme, these are photos taken yesterday afternoon and evening when I was out for a walk.

Being out for a walk was a good thing because unfortunately exercise has fallen off the last two weeks, and time to change that back to the way it should be.  This schedule of leaving the house before it gets light and getting home after dark really throws me for a loop on getting the exercise in.

But being inspired by my youngest sibling, I’m going to fit it in where I can – she has been exercising consistently and oh man is she looking good!  I want to look like her – despite the 17 year difference in age.

As a side note I’m not happy with my black and white conversions.  I lost my old one when the computer had a virus and was repaired.  Now I need to get it back but I haven’t been able to find the link (probably haven’t looked very hard, but I’m going to put some effort into that here this afternoon).

Don’t you love how seed pods come in all shapes and sizes and varieties!  Pretty cool how God created this world to function and be interesting and beautiful to look at!


I’m sharing this post with Rural Thursdays and This or That Thursdays  and Thursdays Favorite Things Hop – won’t you come join us?

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Faith, Outdoors, Photography, Rural Thursdays, This and That Thursdays | 10 Comments


Sometimes the things you want to take a photo of happen in full bright sunshine, away from the shade, when the shadows will be the harshest and the opportunity to blow out the color will be the greatest.  But you take the photos anyway because it is a moment that cannot be recreated.  That is the case with my little rodeo star nephew while camping this past weekend.

He was pretty intent on getting that bundle of rope to a new location.

It is a lot for a little guy to grapple with all by himself.

But he didn’t really want any help – it’s a guy thing, you know.

And really, he’s got it all under control.

Checking his load.

Oops!  Something came undone from the tangled mass of rope and connectors.

Better go back and get it, because it might be important some day.

Got to figure out how to get it all back into one tangled mess again.

Here, this might do it.

So dad, what do you think?  Will it all stay together?

Oh, all right, I’ll just pick it up – see, all in one load.

He’s off to find a way to play with all this stuff.

But that dirt is just too tempting to play with – I mean who could resist showering their legs (and eventually whole body) with soft powdery dirt?

Categories: Extended Family, Family Fun, kids, Photography, Uncategorized | 6 Comments



Meet Tank, the big giant blond lab we picked up this weekend.  Tank has been a member of our extended family for 3 years – since he was a puppy – and he’s stayed with us from time to time.  But now he is with us permanent.  That is fun for us, but sad for my brother’s family, who loved him very much.

Lest you think Tank is a reject, let me assure you he’s not.  He is one of the most loved dogs you will ever meet, even if loving him meant finding someplace better suited to him.

He’s the most joyful, happy dog you will ever meet.  He loves children and other dogs and all people.  He’s obedient and except for his habit of inhaling his food so fast you can’t even see it move, he’s just the best. 

So, why did he have to come to us?  He’s big, just as his name implies.  And the house and yard where my brother and his family live is small.  And there are no dog parks nearby.  And it just got to the point where it was obvious that it wasn’t good for Tank or his people to keep him cooped up all the time, but there wasn’t any other way to do it in their household. 

We have 5.5 arces of fenced open fields for Tank to run and play, and a much larger house (too large) for him to move around in, wag his tail without hitting anyone or anything, and really, our property just fits him better.

The Chocolate beauty is Dera, Tank’s long-time pal, who stayed in North Dakota.  She’s older, slower, smaller, calmer, and much better suited to small property.  Besides, she is so bonded with my brother that to take her away at 8 years old would be cruel to both of them.  Makes me tear up to even think about it because her bond with my brother is so special.

But what I’d love to know is what Dera was thinking when Tank was in our car doing this:

Because Tank and Dera have always ridden in the back of my brother’s car together with all the windows up, laying down calmly.  I’m sure she looked out the window and thought “Tank!  Stick your head back in the window, or it’s going to get blown off by the wind!”

Meanwhile Tank was thinking – “There goes my family in my car with my Dera and my kids, and I’m stuck back here in this car.  But wait, this wind thing is kinda cool, I might get used to this!  Sitting up front, letting my ears blow in the wind.  Hummm, this might be the life.”

When we finally parted company for more than just a short drive, there were tears all around.  J was so excited to have Tank, but it broke his heart to see my brother and sister-in-law crying.  Being the empathetic person that he is, J cried and cried for close to 30 miles as he thought of how hard it must be to give your dog away.

Once the tears dried up we heard (and continue to hear) a lot from J about how very glad he is to have a dog of his own (he can think that, but we know he’s a family dog) and how great Tank is. And yes, J and Tank cuddled like that the entire 6.5 hour ride home.

Now that the tears are behind us, Tank loves being outside.  He goes in and out and in and out and in and out . . . you get the idea.  We think he’s not sure what to do being outside without people because he’s never lived someplace where he could go outside without a leash or supervisor – it may take him some time to adjust to his new-found freedom.

Tank  and Leo were super glad to see each other when we arrived home on Saturday night – both tails wagging and sniffing each other kindly.  They are working out how to be with one another very well. 

Tank ran around the field with each of us as we did our running and jogging laps yesterday morning before church – I think he went about 3 miles all totaled.  He sleeps in J’s room very comfortably – through the night without a peep.  He doesn’t try to run away at the gate when people come in or go out.  He gets an egg yolk in the morning to keep his coat shimmering and beautiful.  He sleeps on the floor in the living room while we watch t.v. or talk, and is happy to just hang out with us.

So, Stacy, Daniel, Danielle and Charlie (and Dera too), thank you for letting us bring Tank into our household.  We know you miss him, and he will always be an extended family dog between our two families. 

Now, grandpa, grandma, and the others in our extended family, we know you are jealously waiting for your turn, but to put it bluntly, tough luck.  You don’t get a turn.  We’re keeping him forever – besides, it is much closer for visits between ND and MT than from CA or MI – you guys live too far away to get a turn.  We hope you’ll understand and not let your jealousy get in the way of our relationships.

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Family Fun, J, Photography | 3 Comments


– one –

Mid-summer: Yesterday when I said it felt like August for me I got some kick back on that. 

So sorry, I’m not trying to rush it, believe me. 

Just seems that it is so dry, the temps are so hot, there are actually tomatoes on my plants, the days have been so full, and I feel like we have more summer left to do but not enough time to do it all.  These are things I usually associate with August.

Add to that the fact that we usually don’t go back to school until after Labor Day, but with the change in schools we go back the Monday before Labor Day, and well, it feels more like the end of summer than the middle.

I’m working on making the correction in my attitude so I can enjoy the 5+ weeks we have left.

– two –

Visit with Grandpa Gary:

My day was here last weekend (Friday morning through Monday morning).  We had a very nice visit.  Wish his wife cold have come with him, but we enjoyed him all the same.  We hung out at the house, went to the Lewis and Clark Caverns (see photo below), went out to dinner at Stacy’s Steakhouse, shot guns, shot arrows (thank you Grandpa for buying a new supply of arrows, we needed them), went to church, walked at least 6 or 7 miles in a couple of trips, and generally relaxed and enjoyed each other. 

Here are a couple photos from the visit

– three –

Fifteen years:

Andy and I celebrated our 15th anniversary this week.  Yeah for us!  Marriage is good – hard sometimes, but good.  We are blessed.

Hey, before I posted this photo (above) I never noticed what a strange tie he wore for our wedding. I wonder what ever happened to that tie.  It’s a weird one!

– four –

Sir Scott’s:  For our anniversary Andy took me to Sir Scott’s Oasis for dinner.  We’d never been there before, but had heard a lot about it.  Andy says its nationally know for its steaks. 

Well, my steak was excellent, but the rest of the meal was just normal – in fact I think I like Stacy’s better on the other things.  By the way, Stacy’s is better priced and really super close to our house, with better service, although the service at Oasis wasn’t bad or anything, just not spectacular.  And if you pay almost $30 for a meal, wouldn’t you think you would get better than a vinyl table-cloth with paper place-mate advertising local rel estate and excavating companies?

Next time we need a fancy meal I think we’ll get our friend Daniel to cater it.  Sorry, no link to Daniel’s business.

– five –

In the News:  Sorry to end on a sad note, but it cannot be ignored.

Today’s news about the shooting in Aurora Colorado is very sad indeed.  Seems like everything in the news is sad – Syria, European debt crisis and related events, unemployment.  Our world is in decline. It is biblical for sin to bring about destruction, but that doesn’t mean it is not painful.

My prayers are with all those in Colorado, who must feel like the summer of 2012 has been a curse (fires and shootings certainly don’t feel like blessings).  May God bring peace and comfort to the hearts of all of those who are touched by these tragedies.

Categories: Andy, Daily life, Extended Family, Faith, Five on Fridays, Outdoors, Photography | 4 Comments


– one –

We had some pretty awesome storms in the afternoons this week – well at least they had awesome winds.  I took this shot on Wednesday as we were driving home from work.  Not too much later we got about 200 yards from home and could see something blocking the road ahead, but it took a while to figure out what it was. 

Turned out our neighbors’ trampoline had been blown off its tie downs, over our fence, across our field and out into the road. 

When we got to it the grandfather was out chaining it to a big Cottonwood tree, and Andy helped him – no photos of that as the winds were blowing what seemed like 90 miles-an-hour and I had all I could handle just to get the car parked in front of the garage and get the groceries into the house.

We were without power until after mid-night, so I got taken out for dinner by my dear husband.  All in all, not a bad evening, although the trampoline was a total loss!

– two –

In that same big windstorm my friend Carin lost this big birch tree.  So Andy and I went over on Wednesday night and helped her cut it up. 

It was so good to check in with her – our lives often keep us so busy we don’t get to just spend time together.  This was a great opportunity.

And now she’ll have some firewood for J to split for her over the coming weeks.

– three –

I have found some great photography sites in the past couple of days, prompting me (inspiring me) to grab my 50mm and get some photos – took this one outside the office one evening while Andy was locking up.  My daisy’s haven’t blossomed yet, but they have a lot of heads on them, so hopefully soon!

– four –

J has been away at camp, and I really miss him.  We pick him up tomorrow around noon, and I’m excited.  Of course, I’ll be bringing Grandpa Gary with me, who arrives tomorrow morning, so J will probably not give me the time of day.  Such is the life of a momma of a 12-year-old.

– five –

While Grandpa Gary is here we might do some target shooting – well the boys and he might, all my shooting will be with camera.  I hope that would be fun for him. 

I’m struggling with finding activities that he would enjoy that don’t require tons of expense or distant traveling.  We thought of going to the Lewis and Clark Caverns, but I think Grandpa Gary gets claustrophobic, and there are some tight spots in those caves that he just might like to skip. We’ll see.

It might be a bit of a relaxed hang-out together weekend, and I think he would probably be okay with that.

Whatever we do, I want to get lots of photos of it.

With company for the weekend, I won’t be coming into the office to post, so see you all on Monday with lots to be thankful for.

Categories: Daily life, Extended Family, Family Fun, Five on Fridays, J, Outdoors, Photography | 5 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.