Turning fifteen on the fifteenth in 2015 calls for a special celebration.

How about a Golden Celebration that lasts all weekend!

A celebration that begins on Friday night with a surprise visit from his sister.

And continues on Saturday with his good friend spending the night.

After hiking, exploring and riding the minibike, they turned an old couch into a trebuchet and shot hedge balls into the cow pasture until dark.

12272995_929885637105160_569763478_nIt was a good day.

But the celebration wasn’t over.

Oh no – it was just beginning.

The next day he was surprised speechless by several cousins who drove down from the city to help him celebrate.

12243739_929885570438500_8757045_nAnd celebrate we did.

Laughter, cupcakes, and a full-size Chewbacca costume.

I kid you not.

It was an epic party.

And as I popped more popcorn and replenished the crescent rolls, Grandma did a quick headcount.

Would you believe he had exactly 15 guests on his 15th birthday on the 15th in 2015?!

BOOM! Nailed that one!

Happy birthday, Buddy!

Apple Cider?

We took a good look at the boxes filledĀ  with this year’s apple harvest and said, “These look like cider apples.”

Mostly small, misshapen, and spotty.

12200929_411675982359046_923262811_nToo many to eat fresh. Wrong variety to can or freeze.

Yep. These were cider apples.

But we no longer have access to a cider press. It was sold with the rest of the Amish store when the Mast sisters left and we don’t know who bought it.


One second thought – maybe not a bummer. After all – that cider press was a lot of hard physical labor to use.

And I do have a juicer.

12202528_411675992359045_771192925_nAn ACME juicer no less – (Wile E Coyote fans are chuckling right now)– bought at a thrift store.

But this leads to a dilemma.

If it is made on a juicer is the finished product juice? Or is it cider since it’s made using the same principles as the cider press?

And does it really matter? Because that juicer puts out some pretty tasty apple stuff!

Seriously yummy.

Nope. Life’s too short to quibble over labels.

12202400_411675965692381_137645080_nWe’ll just call it delicious and enjoy all we can drink fresh. The rest we’ll freeze in plastic containers for winter.

Oh – and that Christmas mug in the picture? I know it’s only the first of November.

But hey – life’s too short to quibble!

Sometimes There are No Words

Some days just leave you speechless.

Sunday was one of those days.

We went to church in two cars and immediately after our potluck lunch, Jan and I took Buddy to Omaha to see Andrew Peterson in concert.

It was an early birthday gift for him – and a real treat for Jan and I!

We had front row seats – literally 10 feet away from the musicians.

IMG_3041We could see every emotion in their face as we heard it in their voice.

The pain, the laughter, the hope.

IMG_3037The joy as he brought his daughter on stage to sing with him.

The pride as he introduced his son on the drum set.

It was so incredible, the emotions so real, the songs so meaningful.

There are no words to describe it.

No words.

It was most definitely a highlight of the year.

But meanwhile – back at home – things weren’t going as well.

Remember the two cars we took to church? Angel Girl took the second one home after the potluck.

And this happened.

12181921_409306075929370_178079365_nShe hit some loose gravel and went in the ditch – flipping the vehicle.

Thankfully she was able to get out of her seat belt, open the passenger door, climb outĀ  and walk three miles home.

She was unhurt. Not a scratch.

There are no words.

Absolutely no words for how a parent feels when they see their child’s car upside in the ditch like that.

Knowing that she was inside.

We’ve spent the last 24 hours dealing with the sheriff’s office, the tow truck, and the salvage yard.

All the while so very, very thankful.

Sometimes there are no words.

Stolen Time

I still can’t believe we pulled this off!

Somehow – in a miracle of scheduling – we got four of our five children together at the same time.

And somehow – in a miracle of packing – squished all of our luggage and bodies into the mini-van…

That's true!…and traveled 10 hours packed like sardines all the way to Colorado to see our firstborn Matt.

We stole three precious days from our very busy fall schedules and spent them together.

By day we played tourist – taking in the highlights of Matt’s adopted city.
DSC_0197We saw where Matt worked, met his co-workers, admired the awesome mountain view from his desk.

We hiked.

We explored.

We climbed.

We shopped.

But by night – we were just us.

DSC_0193Playing games.

Watching movies.

Eating popcorn.

Sharing inside jokes.


Cherishing every moment.

Knowing that time was short and family was precious.

And that soon we would be heading home and leaving one behind.

it was stolen time.

And it was so, so sweet.

Squash-kins and Other Oddities

SquashkinsRemember how desperate this garden season was? How it just kept raining and plants kept drowning?

There for a while I wondered if I would have any produce at all!

So when I noticed a few volunteer squash plants growing in the garden – I let them stay. After all, at least I would have something from the garden – right?

I knew better.

Squash likes to cross pollinate.

In the back of my mind I was remembering the volunteer squash a few years back that looked like dinosaur eggs and was quite prolific. It took years to totally rid the garden of that useless and ugly ornamental.

But I was desperate this spring and I allowed them to stay, mentally glossing over the fact that they would probably go rogue.

This week buddy helped me harvest these volunteers.

And they are interesting.

We have spaghetti squash like pumpkins.

Pumpkin like spaghetti squash.

And my personal favorite – sweet dumpling squash pumpkins.

They’re like a sweet dumpling on steroids.

We’re calling it a “squash-kin” and think it’s kinda cool.

They’ll sure make interesting fall decorations and some unique winter eating!

Maybe going rogue isn’t so bad after all.