Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wash out!

When we stopped back at the farm to pick up the dogs on our way home, we took another walk through the woods. This is a creek bed where Mark created a culvert a few years ago so he could get the tractor across easily. During the summer there was a 5" rainfall that partially washed the culvert out and he had to spend a day repairing it with a new load of gravel. I don't know how much it rained there for this to happen, but it must have been more than 5" because the gravel is completely washed away! Rocks and gravel were washed way down stream, it is quite a mess. Lucy decided it was a new obstacle course and was jumping back and forth with ease. I was lucky enough to catch a jump with my new super duper camera!

Lake Norfork

Christmas evening we drove down to Lake Norfolk in Arkansas where we met up with Sara, Ryan and Ryan's family. Ryan's parents grew up in that area, and still have extended family there. We had a great time visiting with everyone! That area is very beautiful, although the weather didn't cooperate with us very well. I was "slightly" obnoxious with my new camera, and admittedly took more pictures of Hailey than of anyone else (she doesn't complain about the constant camera snapping!) Sara said she was starting her third trimester while we were there, but she still looks great, and is feeling well. Here's the happy pregnant couple at the lake.

Sara on the couch with Hailey.
Another picture of Sara and Hailey....Hailey puts up with so much from the humans around her!
We got in lots of walks while we were there....here's one where we were heading out. Hailey had to wear orange, she looks entirely too much like a deer roaming through the woods!
We all went out for a dinner of fried catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw and fried pickles on Friday night. It was yummy!! Here's the picture that Ryan's brother Jeff took, then following one is the one that I took with Jeff front and center....I guess we should have gotten the waittress to take one of all of us together!

Sara took a picture of Mark and me on the water's edge...the sun was making us squint! The day that we were leaving turned into a beautiful gorgeous day.
And of course, my favorite photographic subject....Hailey. She is always fun of expressions and crazy actions....she loved the lake, being off the leash and getting to swim.

Happy dog!


Christmas was a beautiful day here in STL. We haven't had much sunshine lately, so it was wonderful to have a day to enjoy the sunshine! Mark got me a fabulous digital SLR camera with more bells and whistles than I can possibly ever figure out. I had planned to buy a nicer digital camera before we take our trip to the Galapagos Islands next year, but he made a very good point that I need to know how to properly use the camera before the trip! I've already signed up for classes, but in the meantime I'm just having fun playing with it.

While it was sunny on Christmas, there has been enough cold weather that the lake was completely frozen over. I'm totally fascinated by the frozen ice, since I've not ever been around very much of it! Here's Mark on the ice, cautioning Riley to never walk on the ice while by yourself.

Here's the frozen lake with a tree branch sticking out of it.

Here's a shot of the juniper berries that are so pretty at this time of year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are having a wonderful Christmas season here. Its been cold (colder than I need!) , which does make it easier to get in the Christmas mood. I've been successful in my shopping, which always makes me happy to have good gifts for family and friends. I did have a major funk for several days when Austin emailed that his feet were actually on Iraqi soil, but I'm doing my best to deal with it. I typically spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year's with the Langford clan, and I have realized that out of our five children, three are gone. Austin is only temporarily displaced and I'm thankful for that, but I carry Joe and Maggie in my heart every minute of every day. Sissi and Frank are coping with the season and continuing to show me their incredible strength.

Mark and I are heading to friends tonight, then to the farm tomorrow. After sharing the day with his family, we will drive down to Arkansas and spend several days with Sara, Ryan and Ryan's parents in a cabin that we've rented. I'm so looking forward to having that time with them!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and is spending time with the ones who matter most. Love to all!

You Know You're Living With a True Yankee if....

Okay, so it's damn cold here, and it has been for over a week now. We've had very few days above 30, right now we are actually at a balmy 38, although it is supposed to tumble into the teens tonight. I'm in survival mode...wool socks, three layers at least, and trying to limit my time outside to the minimum. Mark still wants the window cracked open at night, and talks about when winter REALLY hits. He grew up in Rochester, NY, land of many feet of snow....and loves his memories of blizzards there.

On Sunday we realized that the dryer wasn't turning, so he hauled off the laundry baskets to the nearby laundrymat. I expected him home in an hour or so, but one turned into two, almost three and he still wasn't home. When he finally returned home, his explanation was as follows....While at the laundrymat he decided that he should wash the big comforter that is in the back of the truck for the dogs to lie on, so he did that. Then he decided he needed to vacuum before he put the clean comforter back into the car, so he went to the car wash. After he vacuumed his car out, he decided that he might as well go ahead and wash it, because it had salt on it. The outside temperature was 10 degrees at this time! Needless to say, the water froze as soon as it hit the truck, so he then had to scrape water off the truck windows before he could drive home. The truck was encased in a solid sheet of ice! He did notice that he was the only person at the car wash, but really didn't seem to think much more about it! However....we did have dry laundry, and he has a well vacuumed truck!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Austin's Address

Austin is currently in Kuwait, awaiting transfer to Iraq. He will be in Baghdad at an aid station there. He has been able to call and email, but unfortunately I've missed several of his calls! He's called the school when I was home, my cell when I was in school (where my cell is completely dead), and Sunday he called but my cell was downstairs and we were still asleep! It's been frustrating! He sounds like his spirits are good and he is doing well. He has given us his address that will work when he gets to Iraq, so we've been busy buying and mailing things to him so hopefully something will arrive at Christmas time. My school has been very generous and is sending him care packages as well. His address is:

Spc Horne, Austin
C Co 82nd BSB
FOB Hammer APO AE 09308

Sara found a website that has recommendations of things to send to soldiers:

Please feel free to send a card, letter or care package!

Friday, December 5, 2008


Austin is now on his way to Iraq. He called me from Bangor, ME (his second visit there!), and said his next stop was Ireland, then Kuwait. From Kuwait, they will head to Baghdad, although to what part, and when, we aren't sure of yet. His deployment is supposed to be for one year....which is a VERY long time for the Mom. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Here's a picture of Austin, me and Sara during my recent trip to Greenville.

A Walk in the Woods

Thanksgiving turned out to be a beautiful day, and we spent a good part of it just walking through the farm trails. Fortunately, this time I brought my camera along for the walk, and took many shots of different spots on the property. It really is a beautiful place!

One edge of the property is a river, with bluffs overhanging. What a view!

Riley joined us for part of the walk....

Friday, November 21, 2008

Baby G

I didn't get any belly pictures while I was in Greenville last weekend, but this one was lifted off of Sara's pregnancy blog, "All About Baby G". Sara's twenty one weeks pregnant now, feeling great, and starting to feel the baby kicking around. She looks great as well!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


World traveler that I have become, I flew for another weekend in the Carolinas (three out of the last four for those who are counting). This weekend had been planned to see Austin one last time before his deployment. Sara, Ryan and I had planned to drive to Fort Bragg for a visit and celebrate his birthday prior to his supposed deployment this week. In Charleston, we were able to bribe Austin to join us in Greenville, which was much easier on me (it's all about the MOM). I was so happy to see my Hailey dog!

Toby, Whitie and Austin joined us on Friday night, and we had a successful round of Yahtzee. (successful for Ryan!).

Saturday morning Ryan's parents, Donny and Nancy joined us. We headed to downtown Greenville, where they have a great park on the Reedy River. We also managed to get in some Christmas shopping downtown, and ended the day with a great dinner at Bonefish Grill. Unfortunately, there's not one of those in STL, so I'm glad I got to the one in Greenville.
We enjoyed posing for pictures thoughout the park... Ryan, Whitie, Toby, Sara, me, Donny and Austin on some rocky stairs. Nancy was our appointed photographer for this pic.

Very cool beech tree growing on the side of a rock. Whitie joined the roots for perspective.

We grabbed a passing pedestrian to take this picture. Everyone was having a good time!

Nancy, Sara, Ryan and Donny on the suspension bridge.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Maggie's Memorial

This weekend was spent in Charleston, remembering Joe and Maggie; all that they taught us, and all that we have gained from having them in our lives. It was also a weekend to spend with a treasured group of family and friends enjoying good times. I cried like a baby when it was time to leave, but I am so thankful for the joy and the heart ache of having Joe and Maggie in my life. We are all the richer for it.

There's a boat on the road to Folly Island that has been there since Hurrican Hugo, I think, and it always has different things painted on it. Jessie's friends made it special for Joe and Maggie.

Friday night we had dinner at the beach house and a toast to Joe and Maggie.
Sissi, Austin and Frank

Jessie, her friend Eddie, and her dog, Sierra
The Wigglesworth Family: Kym, Maddy, and Craig from North Carolina
Me, Sissi and Kym Wigglesworth

Kym and Amy White, also from Seattle. Amy lost her daughter Susannah to MPS in July of this year.

Me and Big Brother Bill Stembridge

The memorial service on Saturday morning....

Les Sheaffer, dad to beautiful Brittany spoke

Rachel, the best hospice nurse in the world also said a few words

A few memories of Joe and Maggie displayed for us to remember
Afterwards, we went to Sissi and Frank's for a lunch and more sharing of memories. Here are Sara and Ryan enjoying their food.

Austin, me, Rachel, Sissi and Les
Austin, Gordon Wingate (from Texas), Rachel, Sissi and Kate

Me, Rachel and Sissi The next morning, we went out for breakfast. Here are me, Austin, Sara and Ryan together.
And a walk on the beach before we had to say good bye. Les, Maddy, me, Austin, Sissi, Bill, Kathy, David, John and Will Stembridge enjoying the sun.