Friday, December 28, 2012

Velvet Sounds Royal For a Reason

I finally made the Christmas present that Jewelee gave me last year. The only reason I can think of as to why it took me so long is that I kept it in the pantry. Out of sight, out of mind. Too bad for me because it was deluxe!

It was just Jylle and me, and when I spotted it in the cupboard and asked if it was something she was interested in and she said yes, game over. Boxed (i.e. easy) red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting that you bake in the microwave, cool, and then frost. Eeeyummy. And I have two bonus, cool, little white mugs into the bargain. Pleasant Christmastime indeed.

Wish I had several more boxes of this particular present. Or maybe I should be glad I don't. It was easy, fun, and delish, especially with a loved someone alongside.

Thanks, Jewel. The gift and the memory are things I'll savor for a really long time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Our nephew Brian had a grand idea last year when he thought to get us all together here to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's one of those key family holidays, so it was a joy to be able to get to do it again. It's a tradition we're thoroughly grateful for and one we hope we can keep up for a reeeeeally long time.

Brett and Lydia entertained her mom and brother as they visited them for the first time in Colorado Springs. They'll be with us for Christmas, but we sure missed them among us this year.

Amy got to come though! Her first Thanksgiving away from home, away from any family. We're going to be family though, and we loved having her. She was so helpful and fun to have around. She's extremely lovable, easy-going, and she's a perfect fit.

Kev and Brian know how to juggle, so they picked up some tangerines and figured out how to juggle them to each other. It looked pretty cool when they figured it out. Mel captured this picture of their circus act.

There was plenty to do to prepare for dinner, and I was thankful for all the help. Jylle came home Tuesday night, and she picked which jobs she wanted to do off my list. Of course, I had her do even more than that. You know, 'cause I'm the mom, and I can.

Amy got to meet the West side Mulligans, and they were glad for the chance to meet Ryan's fiancée. Mom really enjoyed her and is looking forward to the wedding. (But not more as I am!)

Doreen and I waiting for the turkeys to be done.

Clockwise from top:  Me, Kev, Mom, Doreen, Jamie, Amy, Ryan, Jyllea, Brian, Wayneen, Alan

Post-meal, Day of, Pre-Christmas Photo Set-up

Amy and Jamie helping us center the cameras

Someone's camera went off too soon...

Aren't they cuuute?


Our Thanksgiving Day surprise! We didn't think she'd calve until January. So we have Lily (mom), Billy (bull), and Willy (steer). What to name this one... I thought of Grilly. Amy called him Turk because of Thanksgiving, and Kev calls him Junior. 

If everyone enjoyed even a tenth of the fun and love we did, they would indeed be blessed. It's a warmer, more thoughtful, deeper kind of appreciation when you know there is one less chair at the table. It will not always be like this, but for now, I am deeply grateful.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Proposal

Ryan proposed to Amy!!!

He left for Bozeman on Friday “to visit.” He’d been preparing for months, carefully searching for just the right ring, asking for input from trusted, wise counselors (including his father), meeting with her father to ask his permission to marry her, planning out how he hoped the proposal would play out, mapping out the particular places around town that held sentiment for the two of them, inviting the people he wanted to participate, emailing the map and agenda, praying, praying, praying.

Kev, Jylle, and I left Saturday morning. It was a lovely day until we got close to Fourth of July Pass. It started raining, and I had taken over the driving at the first rest stop because Kev was exhausted from stacking six tons of hay the evening before. His eyes hurt too. I’m glad he got a little nap in before he started driving again, but I sure don't appreciate wet, windy roads.

Ryan’s plan was to have Amy’s parents, grandma, three best friends, and the two of us meet with Amy, each of us at different locations that held sentimental meaning for the two of them. Her friends were on first, and they would drive her to the different “appointments.” He set it up as a kind of scavenger hunt. He dropped off two photos and a clue at each place. One photo was of Amy and whoever she was meeting with, and the other was of the two of them and had a personal handwritten message on it from him that we were to read to her. Then we were to share our hopes and feelings with her, pray with her, and hand her the next clue. Each clue was in a 3x3 card, sealed with wax, and hand-dabbed with a heart shape.

We rolled into Bozeman with an hour to spare before our appointment. I changed at a rest stop, and we went into town to find the new place we were to be since Ryan just found out earlier in the day that the original meeting place was closed due to a fire. Our new place was only two businesses down from the other, so easy enough.

The plan went into action right on time, but then he called to say that Amy was running ahead of schedule. We were too, so that was good. Jylle was on the phone with him when he stopped talking and said, “Oh, no! Oh, nooo,” and hung up.

We arrived at Moberry’s and grabbed a table, one for Jylle to camp out at while the two of us sat with Amy. They grabbed some froyo while I sat and prayed. Ryan arrived about five minutes later, his face streaming with sweat. His “Oh, no’s” were because he was going to take her car to drive the clues around, but when he got to the first destination, he saw that she had ridden her bike.  He had to run all the way back to get his own car in order to make sure he could get from one place to the next on time.

Amy came in with Megan and Libby about ten minutes later, friends snapping candids and leaving her with her future in-laws. The first thing she said when she saw us was, “You’re here…”  We laughed and hugged and sat down. Her eyes were already a little red, but she was still so lovely. Her hair was the color of mine, and it looked great on her.

After asking after each other’s health and mine in particular because of my fall off Apache and subsequent trip to the ER, we got started. Amy hadn't spotted Jylle, who was seated at a table behind her. As soon as we started talking, Jylle quietly scooted her chair closer and closer to us so she could eavesdrop. I read the note that Ryan wrote to her on the back of the photo. It was about grace and how they were in His grace and that His grace is AMAZING. He thanked her for being honest and real with him and called her “Love,” which I thought was touching because that’s what Kev and I call each other. At the end, instead of reading, “Love, Ryan,” I said, “Love, Michael” just to throw her off. We all busted out laughing.

Kev went first with his own thoughts, reading from the page I’d written for him while he drove and dictated. That took about a minute, then it was my turn. As soon as I opened my mouth, I knew I had to say, “I’m not going to make it through this.” I teared up and stayed just on that edge the whole time. I was able to tell her that she is the answer to a prayer I've been praying for all of Ryan’s life. So for 23 years, even before she was born, she has been prayed for, waited for, and now welcomed. That's not perfectly verbatim, but it's really close. I didn't want it scripted, and Ryan wanted it real. And real it was.

We all met back at Amy's house and toasted this much anticipated engagement. Ryan ordered pizza for everyone, and we went around the room to tell how each of the appointments played out. I was extremely touched by how often her family's comments about Ryan were so glowing. It was obvious that their opinion of him is touch notch. Her father got choked up right away, and it always makes my throat catch when a man cries. Her grandma, "Nonny," was an absolute joy to meet, and her comments at least matched if not exceeded her parents'. They were on board with this relationship from the beginning when Ryan asked Don's permission to date his daughter. Don had never experienced that before. And Nonny was captivated by the fact that Ryan gave her flowers on their first meeting. She hadn't received flowers since she lost her husband nine years ago, and that made a huge impact on her.

Wish this was clearer. It's truly a beautiful ring, domed and studded with small diamonds and a band of two "strands" that overlap on both sides. She loves it!

They've pretty much picked out a venue, and it looks like the date will be Sunday, June 16, 2013. We'll have a reception here for them sometime afterward. Two weddings in two years. We're two for solid two as far as daughters-in-law. Like Aunt Ila said, we're not blessed--we're spoiled rotten.

Monday, September 24, 2012

White Coat Ceremony

Ryan was accepted into the UW School of Medicine Spokane, and his year started on August 8. There is an organization called WWAMI, which stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho, the states involved in this medical education program. This organization's mission is to promote and support the program, and make the students feel welcome, secure, and encouraged.

One of the more practical and meaningful things they do is to provide the white coats and stethoscopes presented at the White Coat Ceremony, which for us took place on Friday evening at the Riverpointe campus. Speakers elaborated on the personal and broader meanings of their own white coats. The evening was relaxed and fairly semi-formal, with cake and fruit platter refreshments afterward.

The freshmen class (11 guys, 9 girls)

Amy came over for the special occasion!

Stylin' with attitude

Proud family

The fan club

TRUST students (Targeted Rural and Underserved Tracts)

Auntie Barb came! She's been a tremendous encouragement and 
support throughout his whole undergrad term. Love her so much!

Reciting The Physician's Oath aloud

Red Robin with Schaffers before the ceremony.
They came all the way from Idaho to be with us!
(Sam backed away from the table, so he's not seen. :/ )

It was a joyful, celebratory time full of hope, anticipation, and the promise of much blood, sweat, tears, and challenge, peppered with success, failure, and all degrees of both in between. My favorite speaker was the fourth year student, a resident who spoke with clarity and emotion about his own successes and failures and vision. He sized it up as a profession with great potential highs and lows, but to always consider each patient and his life as a whole, because they all deserve your equal respect. It was gallant and refreshing. 

I believe Ryan will fulfill the reputation of the white coat as he strives to raise the bar and honor human life as of precious value. It was a great evening to welcome and honor these up and coming physicians and acknowledge their friend and family support. Cheers, Ryan!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


I love Shutterfly.

Click here to view this photo book larger
Build your own high-quality photo books at

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Pitcher Life

Something happened the other day that I can't stop thinking about. I was subbing when I got a call from the high school librarian looking for a specific book. First, she asked me to look up the bar code.  I couldn't find one. She called again and asked me to look in a different place. Still couldn't find it. She called again and asked about one more place. Nothing. The fourth time she called, she sighed and said she was sorry to ask me to do this, but could I go through the boxes and look for the book. Our records showed that it was checked out to a girl who was certain that she turned it in, and she's a good kid with a good attitude, so Rhonda really wanted to help her.

I'd been boxing up all the books in the middle school library because they're moving it into the main building next year. I looked at the myriad stacks of boxes and told her I'd call her back when I realized the box it could be in was at the very bottom of a stack of eight. Of course.

As I looked around though, I realized it could also be in a box that was on the very top of the stack next to the big one. I started there, and about six books into it, I found it! I called her back, and she was SO happy. She put her phone on speaker and had me say it again so the girl could hear me herself.

It feels so good to help someone. Especially when it's appreciated. The best way to get over yourself is to pour into someone else's life. You don't have to drain yourself dry. A little syrup goes a long way. I want to bring that Jesus-sweetness into other lives, not just because it feels good, but because that's how He lived. I want to be a clear glass pitcher--transparent, filled with His sweetness, and available to be broken bread and poured out wine.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just Be

I'm still caught up in behavior as much as I thought I wasn't. Yesterday I caught myself thinking that if I made better choices, was as on fire for Christ as I see some others are (Ryan, Zeb, Gretchen, Jotham, and Timbo to name a few), if I was doing my part to really spread the Gospel, that I'd be more worthy to be called His child.

But that's not true! Billy Graham and Mother Teresa couldn't be worthy. Nobody is. Only Jesus! I can never be worthy, only grateful. My only act is to look to Him in faith, and I believe even that is a gift from Him.

When I realized my wrong thinking, I silently asked, "What am I supposed to do...?" His gentle answer still causes pause and consideration. "Enjoy Me."

Just be present in the moment and know that He is here. These moments too are gifts and bound up in time.   I like the adage that we are human beings, not human doings. Be rightly related, and savor His sweet communion. He'll let me know what to do in my next moment and the next.

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Jylle has a fabulous friend named Cassie. I like Cassie. In fact, I've never met a Cassie I haven't like. This one's impossible not to like. Unless you hate adorable puppies, brightly colored flowers, and fine chocolate. Then you're free to leave this post. And this country.

She's straightforward, honest, kind, brave, socially adept, cheerful, pretty, and moral. She's a party on wheels into the bargain.

Last night she called and wanted to come over to show us something.

Stage Time members showed some of the younger kids how to apply makeup for effect. While this did not beautify or bedazzle her, it was indeed interesting and worth the short side trip that we are on her way home. It was a kick.

Something both Ryan and Jylle do when they drive away is to honk the horn twice right before they get to the big box elder almost to the end of the driveway. Two short beeps is their way of bidding me goodbye, just something easy but personal.

Cassie wanted to do that too, but ended up failing to make the final curve before the road, distracted as she was by the timing of it.

AAA ended up saving the day--again. Honestly, we certainly get our money's worth out of them. Kev and Jylle took Cassie home while I waited for the tow truck to show up, which wasn't until this morning. Ah, well... They didn't apply it to our account since it was their screw-up, which is good business.

Another Cassie story for our family. Sweet girl. We love you. xoxo

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter 2

My phone rang just after 6:30 this morning. I jumped out of bed because I left my phone in the kitchen overnight. In my grogginess I thought it announced my mother-in-law, but then I could tell by the ringtone that it was Ryan. He asked if we could Skype for a few minutes. In the muddle that was my mind, I could not think of one good reason for us to do that. "I don't have pants on," was my profound reply. He asked, "Is Daddy there?" I said, "Yes, but he's in the bathroom." He hesitated, then said, "I'd really like to Skype. Just for a few minutes."

I put him on speaker, yanked on some sweats, and warned him that I would have to un-hibernate my lappy first. "No problem." We had just connected when Kev joined me. Ryan looked showered, shaved, and altogether well-groomed, whilst we were bespeckled, sweatshirted, uncombed, and crusty. But at least we were there.

He looked like he was thinking of just the right words, and the thought hit me just before he started to say it. "I got a call from UW last night. I got accepted." Insert whooping and hollering and congratulations *here*. My Kevin is an excitable boy, and he lets fly when there's good news. When Jylle showed up on the scene, Kev told her, and she smiled and said, "I figured that's the only reason you'd be yelling and screaming with Ryan at 6:30 in the morning."

The call came last night while he was talking to Amy, and he wasn't going to pick up since he didn't recognize the number. He did though, which was unusual. Amy could hear the guy's voice, and when she heard what he was saying, she ran out of the room going, "AAAHHHHHHH!!!" Ryan said he felt like saying, "Jeepers, Mister, thanks for calling!!" He said his joy level was akin to finding out that his parents are super spies who just saved the world, and then raced back home to bake cookies.

One of the things I loved was when he said that there's no human way he should have been accepted into medical school. Doesn't matter how good your GPA and M-CATS scores are, the percentage of people who get in is pretty low. "Unless God had done this or that, I wouldn't be in." A thankful heart always gets me. Kev told him not to think too little of himself because "I'm not much, but I got Mama." To which I added, "And it's a small percentage who did."

It's his understanding that he'll be matriculating at the Spokane campus--which is sooo great! He also got into the Trust program, (Targeted Rural/Underserved Tracts), which pays for his schooling and which he repays by working a certain number of years for them. Yeah, baby!

This is him studying a placenta during a job shadow. I know, ewww, but it's the only picture I had of him in anything "labby." He'll be wearing these for reals someday. Wow, my Ryrie a doctor. Maybe he's the one who'll save the world.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I am w-a-y too easily influenced. There are thousands of really quality blogs out there, writers with incredible talent, commenting on countless topics and seasoned with great photography. I've heard all my life Don't try to be someone else. Just be the best you that you can be. My problem is not being able to narrow that down. When I read a well-done post by a foodie, I think I want to do that. When I read something irrevent and hilarious, I think I want to do that. I want to be sassy and witty, straightforward and uncomplicated, or informed and well-read. Or all of them collectively.

I don't know if it's that I like a million different things or if I just don't know me well enough. I know that figuring out your target market is essential in book publishing, but I'm not marketing anything. I just want to write. And I want it to be good. I need to be proud of it because it's going to represent who I am and what that means.

More than halfway through my life, and I'm still asking the question of a lifetime: Who am I? I have a great starting point for the answer to that, and I wonder if there can ever be a conclusion to a quest of this scope--or if it's so simple that I'm missing it...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Did I say thanks for that?

It's day 31 of Project Gratitude, and I'm glad to say that so far I haven't missed a day. It's been a terrific exercise in examining the blessings in my life, and I find myself thinking about them way more than I ever did before. I've always appreciated the words Thank You, so to apply them more often only seems appropriate, especially given the humongous blessings that wallpaper my life.

I was coming back from feeding the horses when I realized that it was going to be a sunny day. I grabbed my camera and waited (not very patiently) in the snow to watch the sun slide up behind the mountain. My camera freaks out in bright light from a sand mishap in Corpus Christi, painting horizontal stripes across the pictures, but I manage to like this photo anyway. There are frozen weeds right in front of my eyes, but beyond them is a bigger, brighter landscape with Hope glistening like floodlights. It's a lesson in perspective for me, something I've needed for a long time.

Off to go be grateful for something now. Tootles!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year's Resolution

"If the only prayer you ever pray in your whole life is 'thank you,' that would suffice." ~Meister Eckhart

I am inspired by this quote and the notion of being grateful, for at least one thing, every single day. I never make New Year's resolutions, so this year is different. I'm challenging myself to nurture a grateful heart, so I'm going to post one thing for which I'm thankful for the next 366 days (it's a leap year!) in a new blog called "Every Day Grateful."

My God is generosity, kindness, love, grace, provision, and joy. I'm looking forward to naming some results of that mighty gifting, as He inspires.

Thank You, Lord, for this opportunity.