Eating Out

bonfireWe ate out last night.

I mean really out.

Like – outside out.

Like – out in the pasture out.

Yes, I know it’s January.  Yes, I live in Iowa.

But it was a balmy 60 degrees yesterday and the kids had spent all afternoon cleaning out some fence lines. When Jan came home they hauled the wood and started a fire – a big fire.

Since they were already out there – and they already had a fire – we decided to pack up some  hot dogs and make it an adventure!

So – by the light of an almost full moon – we pulled up some stumps, roasted our hotdogs and made a memory.

After eating way more s’mores than we should have, the kids packed things up and went home.

But Jan and I sat on our stumps holding hands while we watched the fire turn to embers.

It was so peaceful sitting there in the light of the flames,  talking and listening to the coyotes howl – a real “country-style” date.

It was one of those sweet moments that can’t be planned, they must just be enjoyed!

Date Day!

I played hooky from school yesterday. 🙂

My husband surprised me on Thursday night with the news that he had to take off for the eastern part of the state in the morning to pick up some parts for work.

And he asked me to go along.

I think I actually squealed! An entire day with my husband! Whee!

Even the 6:00 AM departure didn’t lessen my excitement – it just meant sharing an amazing sunrise with him as we traveled east.

I didn’t even mind the almost 2 hour wait while Jan had the parts cut and loaded. I got to sit in the quiet van and read. What a treat!

While our kids were home eating left-overs for lunch  – we were sitting on a park bench by the river shared a sub sandwich and soaking up the sunshine.

Things just got better and better!

Our first stop of the afternoon was at the famous Dutchman’s Store in Cantril. Think an Amish Wal-Mart. It takes almost an entire city-block and sells everything from food to quilting supplies. It’s like our little Amish store on steroids.

StoreWe obviously found some things we just couldn’t live without!

My favorite purchase was the carton of fresh chocolate/peanut butter. We ate it by the spoonful all afternoon!

Our next stop was the Milton Dairy where we had to sample every variety before finally choosing a package of tomato/garlic cheese curds.


We stopped at several thrift stores before heading back west as the sun was setting.

The weather was perfect.

The autumn landscape beautiful.

The company ideal.

Jan said it was the best day of work he’s had all week.

Yeah, me too! 🙂

The Porch Swing

SwingI sat on the porch swing the other night with Jan.

That statement is profound when you remember that the last 6 weeks of our lives have been crazy busy. We’ve been running at high speed with one big event following another leaving little time to catch our breath.

Little time to sit on the porch swing.

Little time to enjoy a sunset.

Little time to hold hands and listen to the night sounds.

The porch swing is our special place. Years ago when we were still dating, I mentioned to Jan how much I love porch swings.

A few weeks later he surprised me with a porch swing hanging in his little porch.

We spent many a date night swinging and talking.

It’s remained one of our favorite places over the years.

The swing is now gray and weathered. Some of it’s bolts are rusty, others are loose.  The seat sags a little in the middle. But we still love it.

It’s a reminder to slow down and enjoy the moment together.

To hold hands and watch the sunset.

To take a deep breath in the midst of the chaos and rest.

An Unexpected Treat

unexpected blessingsI had an unexpected treat in the middle of a work week yesterday.

I had a  date with my honey – all day!

My husband had to drive to the eastern part of the state to pick up some special parts for work – and he asked me to ride along.

Of course I said yes!

And – other than the fact that we had to be up at 4:30 and on the road by 5:30 – it was a wonderful day!

We watched the sun rise in the east as we started off in the morning and set in the west as we headed home  – giving us twelve hours in the car to talk, laugh, remember, and just be together.

It was so relaxing!

I didn’t have laundry to do, children to watch, assignments to grade, or meals to make. The only decision I had to make was where we should eat! 🙂

When we got to our stops – I got to sit in the suburban in the sunshine and read while he took care of the business parts of the trip.

The sweetest part of all was the fact that he got paid to be with me!

The kids stayed home by themselves and did just fine. The laundry was done, bread made, meals eaten, and the house was still standing. I didn’t ask how many hours of TV were watched or computer games played. I really don’t want to know.

I’ll need to scramble a bit today to make up for my mini-vacation yesterday – but it was so worth it.

There’s a smile on my face and a light in my eyes this morning.

I’m feeling pretty blessed.

Don’t Forget the Forgotten Things!

As we cleaned up after the fabulous Golden weekend – we discovered that several family members left things behind.

I guess I wasn’t really too surprised – but it was a rather interesting assortment of items including:

3 sleeping bags
1 dirty wash cloth
a pair of pink tennis shoes
a necklace
a pair of jeans
a headlamp
a sweatshirt
a glass baking dish with lid
3 tubes of toothpaste (which we have been using – thanks for the donation!)
1 travel size bottle of Head & Shoulder’s (I’m still wondering if this one was a hint!)

Since we live almost 2 hours from the closest family – I wondered how long it would be before we could make connections to return these items.

But then things started falling into place.

Jan bought a used plow on Craig’s list that had to be picked up several hours away. He asked me if I wanted to ride along. Of course I said yes! After almost 20 years of marriage and five kids I’m always glad of a little alone time with my sweetheart –  especially if it involves traveling back roads!

Since we would pass within a few miles of one of my sister’s house – I made some phone calls to make arrangements to meet them in route to pass off the pile of forgotten things. I threw together some snacks, had Pedro pack up the big pile in the van, and I headed to town to meet Jan.

So far so good – right?!

I wanted to make a quick stop at the library to pick up a couple of books – but alas none of the books I wanted were there. But I did see a good friend and had a nice chat – which salvaged the trip! (Hey Caroline!)

Then I ran to the grocery for 2 things – yes just 2! I grabbed them and headed to the check-out where I got behind a mom with several little ones. They were just the cutest little things driving the special grocery cart with the car in front!

Of course they had to “help” mommy – which took twice as long. But I didn’t complain – I just stood there smiling because I remember the not-too-distant past when I was that Momma!

But it did put me behind schedule.

Then I realized that I would be riding in a car for 2 hours – which made me need to use the bathroom – so I ran over to Pamida which had the closest public restroom in town – before jumping in the van and heading out to meet Jan at work.

I was about 10 minutes late and a little flustered when I arrived and saw him waiting outside for me!

He had the Suburban and trailer there – so all I had to do was transfer the stuff from the van into the Suburban and we would be off on our “date”.

I grabbed my books, jacket and the food, jumped in and we took off.

We were halfway to the interstate before I remembered the forgotten stuff in the back of the van.

Yup – I had totally forgotten it.


Jan even asked before we left if I had gotten everything transferred. Of course I did – I had the food and my books !

It was quite embarrassing – after all the trouble to arrange things – to call my brother-in-law and tell him that he didn’t need to meet us because I had forgotten the forgotten things.

He thought it was quite humorous.

He might still be laughing.

I know Jan is!

It took a few more miles to laugh at myself – but we did go on to have a wonderful evening together.

And the forgotten things will remain forgotten – at least for now.

I’ve linked this post up at Friday Fails over at My Blessed Life.