Tuesday, December 12, 2017

December Hiking in S. Dakota

Last week it felt like winter had finally arrived -- we had a couple days where it didn't break freezing (accompanied by LOTS of very cold wind) and even some snow ...


































Then Sunday, we had fabulous weather -- over 60 degrees, sunny and very little wind! Immediately after church we headed up to Buzzard's Roost, a popular hiking spot just a few miles out of town to enjoy the lovely day.

We'd forgotten about the fact there might still be snow up there and weren't wearing the best foot gear, but it worked out just fine and we had a great time enjoying the sunshine!














































































Thursday, December 7, 2017

Goin' on a tree hunt!

This weekend we got to take advantage of the National Forest's Christmas Tree program and headed out to the Black Hills National Forest to find our very own tree. It was a beautiful sunny day and Jason had found area for us to look that ended up being completely deserted so the kids could roam freely while we hunted for the "perfect" tree.


















































































This one looked just a tad too big --


Finally found the right one! Luke helped carry it for about a minute - glad to be married to someone who can carry the whole tree by themselves :)


































And, the finished project. It was really fun (& kinda stressful) to have BOTH kids "helping" decorate the tree :)
























Monday, December 4, 2017

Thankful for .... Nebraska??!?!

Ha, I don't know that I would have ever thought I'd be thankful for the state of Nebraska, but this year I totally am! The proximity of our kindred-spirit friends, the Deeds family (located IN Nebraska) has been a huge blessing for us in our transition to life in the Midwest.

We got to spend the Thanksgiving weekend in their home -- and were really thankful! We'd spent Thanksgiving with them while in Guatemala in 2013 and it was so meaningful to get to do it again.  It was such a sweet time -- our kids play so well together that all four adults actually got to spend time cooking together in the kitchen. It was really fun!

We had wonderful, wonderful weather {for the midwest} and were able to do a Thanksgiving hike without coats on -- pretty exciting ;-)





















































I realized after the fact that I did not get a picture of our feast :( but I did manage to capture my "treat tray" of course :)  We also had a special dinner on another evening complete with Guatemalan table cloth, place mats and napkins. So so fun for us!





















We continued to have decent weather and were able to spend more time outside -- the kids even had a GIANT tumbleweed chasing them!






























In addition to the loveliness of our time together, we had the awesome opportunity to attend the church that Will pastors and to once again hear him lead worship & preach -- for the first time without a Spanish translator! It made me a little emotional ... getting to be with these special people who we had such a unique experience with and who have inspired us in many ways.
















Then .... all too soon, it was time for us to say goodbye and head back to South Dakota. Thanks Deeds Family for an awesome Thanksgiving!!


















Tuesday, November 21, 2017

November visitors & fun!

We've been thankful that in the midst of our move we've had a small list of things to look forward to which has helped to curb our home/friend-sickness a bit. After my parents visit, we had Jason's Mom come through (twice!) on her way to/from Minnesota, we had our own trip to Nebraska, then Halloween, plus a visit from Idaho friends and now this week looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Marilyn was here only for a short visit, but of course we managed to do a lot during out time together.  We hiked around Sylvan Lake (in the snow!) & visited Custer State Park. We tried to see Mt. Rushmore, but it was completely covered in clouds/fog...but we DID get to see some mountain goats instead :)


























 

























































































Then it was time for a neighborhood walk, a story with the kids and saying our goodbyes --


































In between Marilyn's visits, we celebrated a sweet Halloween with the kids. A morning trick-or-treat at the library and an evening one in the nearby historic district -- West Blvd. We were very thankful to have hand-me-down costumes from the kids cousins!





Then just last week we had some special friends stop in for dinner on their road trip to Minnesota/Iowa. I have been thankful for Gretchen ever since she popped in on me at our Priest Lake trailer 2 1/2 years ago to say hi. Her son Connor is Luke's age and we had a great summer with them at Priest Lake. With her parents living in Moscow, we got to continue to see them on a regular basis; and lucky for us they also have family to the East, so we get to continue to see them even with our move!






































This year I managed to get a "thankful tree" put up -- something my friend Rachel does every year & inspired me to do. It has been a good activity for all of us and reminder of the incredible blessings we live with every day.  Our "thankful leaves" are going up, onto the tree instead of falling off :) The tree getting fuller everyday is a nice visual reminder of all we have.









Thursday, November 16, 2017

Feeling GOOD at Badlands National Park

Saturday was a pretty decent weather day and with the bonus of it being a National Parks "free weekend" we decided to check out Badlands National Park.

It is a really bizarre piece of landscape. Very cool, but very weird too. Sort of felt like we were on the moon. The lack of anybody being around added to the eerie feeling :)




 



We came across this and were pretty impressed by whoever must be pedaling it across the country.


























Owner of this fine piece of transportation in the far distance. Pretty hard core, but we weren't jealous.















































We were super excited to see this guy emerge from one of the canyons -- first big horn sheep sighting for us in S. Dakota!














It wasn't our last sighting for the day --































No outing in S. Dakota would be complete without seeing at least one bison ... and a coyote :)













































Since we'd heard that Wall Drug in Wall, S. Dakota was a "must-see" and it was on our way home, we decided to check it out. The kids really enjoyed it! We enjoyed our 5 cent coffee and were super glad to be there in the off season when things were empty.





























We clearly tired Mabel out with all our sight seeing.










Thursday, November 9, 2017

Family Photos in Easton, Washington

Before we left Leavenworth, we had the opportunity to hire our friend and photographer, Kelly Taklo, to take one more set of family pictures for us. She'd been camping in the area and had scoped out some great spots. So thankful to her for sharing her time and talents with us!!

A few of our favorites --