As we were coming back from our Christmas Eve candlelight service tonight, we were talking about how all of those tiny little candles made our church full of light, enough that you could read by. We were discussing how each one of us can make such a difference in the world with the little light we have; and as we pulled into the driveway I noticed how the moon was reflecting off the new snowfall and made it look like thousands of tiny little stars were winking and blinking. And when I heard a new song on KLOVE a poem sprang into life and I had to jump out of bed and write it down:
So, I have to tell you this story...JD stopped by a few days ago. We had some hot apple cider and sat around the fire and talked while the kiddos were finishing up their schoolwork. JD started telling us about the lady that used to live in our cabin. They called her Shotgun Annie. She lived alone and mostly "kept to herself," he said. Evidently she was a nice lady and lived here most her life until she died but they called her Shotgun Annie because she didn't like strangers coming on her property and always greeted everyone with a shotgun in her hand. Cracked me up! Can't you just see it? Me in a pair of dirty overalls, (oh, wait I'll just wear my insulated muddy coveralls that hang down to my knees? There's a picture!) throw on a straw hat and sling MacGyver's shotgun over my shoulder? Woo doggy! Well, I HAVE been known to carry my handgun, which is a small 380 around for the animals, but people? Only once have I actually grabbed it when I had to go up the hill to meet someone at night. Once we had to go out after dark and spent a couple of hours tromping through the snow and woods to look for the colt after he got out and I wished I had it then; but I've never really thought about toting around a gun for all the world to see. What do you think? New nickname?
So, I did it! The warm weather must have gotten to me...I taught the kiddos how to drive the 4-wheeler today. It is a manual transmission so I thought it would take some time (maybe days) for them to get it but they both picked it up in less than 15 minutes! They are changing gears like the pros, now. What was I thinking? Mostly that if I ever needed their help (ie. got hurt), I wanted them to feel comfortable enough to jump on and take over. Izzy said this was the best day of her life EVER! We spent hours running around the mountain and even ran the gas tank bone dry. Luckily, we had just pulled up to the cabin and we didn't have to walk miles back home! Close call!
We finished up our first semester today! Whew! I was beginning to wonder if we were going to make it! And while we were hard at work finishing up school, MacGyver jimmied up some brakes for the 4-wheeler since we haven't been able to find them anywhere. Strap on some 'ole chains and we might just be unstoppable! I still don't think the kiddos are old enough to run free all over the property, with or without brakes, much to their chagrin! So, in celebration of having a productive day and completing a successful semester still alive and breathing, we went out to dinner and drove through some of our "local" neighborhoods checking out some of the houses that were decorated for Christmas. We actually had to drive about 30 minutes away since the mountain folk (us included) all think there is no point in decorating your house if there aren't more than 10 people that pass their house to enjoy it. Driving around looking at lights is one of our favorite parts of Christmas, though, and we just couldn't miss out. We could definitely tell which blocks were competing for best/most decorated! Some of them even lit up their entire backyards! Way cool! Tomorrow's plan: run, read my Bible, put house back in order, watch a Christmas Veggie Tale with the kiddos, make a grocery list for Christmas dinner, run the dogs, work the colt, meet with G about him being gone over Christmas, and be thankful for a week off of school and that all my Christmas shopping and shipping is D-O-N-E, done!
Have you ever tried to run at 7500 ft in elevation, up and down a mountain, in 20 degree weather? Can you say asthma attack? Running cross country 15 years ago below sea level on flat ground couldn't possibly prepare my lungs for that! I want very bad to conquer this mountain before it conquers me! Seeing this on our windows doesn't help:
I had to call G (the owner of the ranch) today and tell him he had a horse down with colic (bowel twist). I knew what is was as soon as I saw it. He had gotten out and wandered down to our place and when I went out to get him and take him back up to G's, he was on the ground, rolling around back and forth and wouldn't get up. I knew it wasn't good...and then I saw he had blood coming out of his mouth and nose and he was struggling to breathe. And when I realized it was Bud, a lump began to form in my throat. We fell in love with Bud the first day we met him. He was skinny and it took some time to get his weight up, but we had him looking better in no time at all. So, today I spent a long, painful hour with him trying to calm and comfort him. I knew he was dying and by the time G and the vet got there, he had to be put down. Wow was that hard! I think, though, that it was harder to see him in so much pain and not being able to help him than being put down. Now he is lying in my driveway and waiting to be buried tomorrow (sort of an odd feeling). Izzy cried and Ike got a little choked up, too. And so, it was a tough day; one I'd never care to repeat. He was only 12 and a sweetheart of a horse!
MacGyver took the Bobcat (see him hard at work play?) out to clean up our road last night. While he was out, he found mountain lion tracks and followed them all around the Clare House (at the Catholic retreat) all the way down the hill towards us and then it turned and went across the road. It was only about 10-15 feet from their front door. I guess he/she has been out hunting! Freaky! We're talking about setting up a webcam so we can monitor what is going on outside! Wouldn't that be cool?
Mac and I went to his C Shift Christmas party last night. It was -15 on the way home at 11:30. That is just not right! We even took a picture to prove it. It is supposed to be a balmy 40 on Friday, though. It makes me want to abandon my family and make a beeline for G-Ma's and G-Pa's in Florida!
Check out our Nuevo Amigos (new friends). The kids are learning Spanish in school. Can you tell? Ike saw this elk "lurking" behind our house this morning when he let the dogs out. I just wish he'd leave the hay alone!
And check out this fox; he ran across our street and
turned around and began watching us.
Now THERE'S a turn of events!
We saw these two coyotes hunting in a field together.
Evidently it is not uncommon but I've never seen that before!
MacGyver took this picture of my favorite flower, poppies, growing along the Colorado roadside last summer. I found this picture and just thought I might not be the only one tired of cold, white snow, especially seeing pictures of Gma and Gpa's banana tree and hibiscus blooming in the middle of December! Seriously?!?!
Today I feel the need to pause and share how grateful I am. I am so thankful to have the honor of sharing 15 years with my best friend. I can not thank God enough that he is a man of God that gets up at 4:30 to go to the fire department, survive on less than 6 hours of sleep, has a heart to help those he doesn't know on and off duty and then come home to cut wood and fix all the broken things on his honey-do list. I am thankful to share my life with him and to have his help to feed the horses, work the colt, run the dogs, love the kids, pray with, talk about everything, share our kiddos, find contentment in our life and dream about our future. I am thankful that we have decided to homeschool, live smaller, sacrifice the "things" of life that have no eternal value, give immeasurably and love more. I am so thankful that he is brave enough to give me B-12 shots because I am such a chicken, love me when ~because I forget to take my medicine~ am too exhausted to move, wear my emotions on my sleeves, get frustrated or laugh uncontrollably at the kids, and accepts me just like I am. I pray I can meet him where he is, love him unconditionally, lift him up in prayer, give him a soft place to fall, build him up with appreciation and encouragement and kiss him every chance I get!
Today it was warm and dry enough to get out and run some errands. We even ran the dogs and let them get some of their energy out. In the course of 3 hours we took some pretty pictures, saw evidence the elk was breaking into the horses' hay, a coyote, red tail hawk, bald eagle, another coyote, 2 bunnies and a skunk running across the field. What a fun day! I was looking for the elusive mountain goats and mountain lion but no luck today! We even found where the Colorado Trail begins...about 5 minutes from us. The new goal: traverse all 500 miles of it over the course of the next year. Maybe we can hit the first 15 miles on Sunday on showshoes! (Doing the happy dance!) We also made a video of the hairy, scary road to our house. It is bumpy and snowy and makes me motion sick to watch it (which is a nice break from the normal panic attack I have from driving it). Hopefully you won't react the same way!
So our Christmas tree is significantly smaller this year. If you've ever experienced our trees in the past, they are usually about 20-25 feet when first cut down and tied to the top of our Jeep with branches hanging this way and that and usually blocking most of the windshield and all of the other windows. My favorite Tree Hunt quote..."I can't see the forest for the tree!" And when we got it home, we had to resize it to fit a 16 foot ceiling. MacGyver always had to get a ladder out to string the lights and then we had to lean over the balcony to hang the ornaments and the angel. Ike always ran and hid because he was certain we were all going to die. Did I ever tell you about the time the tree froze on the way home, broke my side mirror when we took it off the top and then we couldn't get it through the front door? It had to spend a lonely night in the garage with a heater running so we could thaw it out and get it in with some of the branches intact. Or about the year it smelled like mountain lion? LOL! This year?...not so much. It probably started out about 20 feet and we had to take it down to a sad 8 feet to fit in the cabin. And when all was said and done, I took a picture for posterity only to realize Morty was in the way~meet Morty the Moose~So here is a pic of the tree pre and post Morty. Should we vote? Doesn't it look like the angel has ginormous wings?
MacGyver was on shift this year. He had wings with the guys at the station and the kiddos and I went to our friends' house to celebrate with their family. So, today we celebrated Thanksgiving as a family. This morning we cut and stocked up on some firewood, and this afternoon we cut a Christmas tree on the property and just finished our ham dinner...glazed not smoked this year. We've got a fire in the wood stove, Christmas music playing on Pandora (cool internet site that streams music of every type), he is stringing lights on the tree, the kiddos are washing dishes and the pups and I are taking a moment to finally sit for a moment before the decorating begins! It was a wonderful, warm family day...the best kind of Thanksgiving. We even made a list of "what are we thankful for" from A to Z.
MacGyver hung a tire swing for the kiddos a couple of days ago with one of our old climbing ropes and a used tire we picked up at the local tire shop. They even talked me into taking a turn. It's been a long time since I've been on a tire swing! I forgot how much fun it was. I didn't even realize they both had their Red River shirts on until I posted these pix...I wonder if that was planned?
In case you are not aware, we have had two litters of puppies. Most of them end up going through a diabetes alert training program and placed in homes with a child with diabetes. We just heard that one of our pups from our June litter, Bear, was delivered to his new family last weekend. The first 3 days at his new house he managed to alert on his new vet, who was just diagnosed with diabetes, as well as, a runner in the park who was in the beginning stages of being diagnosed. He even managed to trump the new $6000 monitor his new family had just purchased and alerted even when the monitor failed...and he is only 4 months old! I will never get tired of hearing these stories! Here is Bear at 2 months.
Well, we ended up with about 3 1/2 feet of snow. We did end up strapping on the ole snowshoes and heading out on a search and rescue mission for MacGyver. I forgot he always has his trusty stead, Tank, in tow. I'm so glad he can take him to work! What was I thinking? We met him about halfway. He was snowshoeing back up to the cabin, too! The boys went out later to try and dig the Jeep out and was finally able to get it home. We were able to get to the Bobcat and spent the rest of the day clearing the rest of our road. Can you say FUN? He cleared most of the road to the nun retreat but didn't even attempt to go up the hill to the monk hermitage (monkey village, the kids call it), but at least we can get in and out now! Forget the "by hand" theory. You can clear snow in a tenth of the time with the Bobcat...if only we could find those missing chains! We'll have to wait until next week when the snow melts off. It's going to be back in the 60s! Woohoo!
I've heard we have about 3 feet of snow. I believe it. I stopped counting at about 27 inches. When I went out to feed the horses last night, I had to traipse through knee deep snow. That was about 5:00 last night. We've been getting about an inch an hour and it snowed all through the night. I will have to shovel the front and back doors to get them all the way open, and will have to make another path to get to the horses and their hay. Luckily, Ike LOVES the snow and LOVES to shovel (and sled) through it. Now the trouble will be getting MacGyver home. He's coming off shift this morning and will have to chain up to get up our driveway. I pray he doesn't roll off the side. It can get pretty hairy when it is snowy or muddy. It might be mid-morning before I see him. I'm considering strapping on the ole snowshoes and meeting him at the end of our road and at least make an attempt to help. I don't think I can shovel 3 feet of snow 1/2 mile by hand, but I can at least hit the most treacherous spots. Maybe he can get to the bobcat. For now, the wood-burning stove is roaring and crackling, the coffee is hot, the butternut squash bread is warming in the oven and I've just finished doing my morning devotions, all before 7:00. Now I'll have enough time to get ready for school and feed the animals before the kiddos wake up!
Our family went to Anderson Farms (a local agritourist spot) to pick some pumpkins from their humongous pumpkin patch. They had pumpkins and gourds of every possible kind, a 12 mile long corn maze (yes we did the whole thing), sheep, chickens, and the cutest little baby goats and llamas... but no camels (which Izzy was very relieved about) and pumpkins as far as the eye could see! We always have so much fun here!
Coming up our driveway with snow and frost covering the trees. It's hard to make out but the sun is setting and illuminating the top edge of the trees. I love living here...it is sopeaceful and beautiful!
MacGyver and Tank passed their FSA (foundation skills assessment) on Sunday! He had several types of tests to pass, including no dog or stranger aggression, agility, directability, 5 minute down-stay, and searching for two victims on a limited access pile. Ike has been suffering with a terrible episode of asthma so the kids and I missed out. But, Mac said that even though it was a long day with 8 or so dogs in various stages of testing and retesting, Tank did great! He has worked so hard to get this far, we both feel an equal sense of excitement and relief! Although the hardest part is behind us, they are slated for two more trips before they are finally certified. Go Machine and Tank! These are pics of them cramming for the final and cleaning up Tank's directablity at WMFD's new and improved station, burn tower and cache site for FEMA's COTF-1. Check out all that equipment!
The kiddos and I were coming back from the Open House Saturday and were about 8 miles from home on the interstae when the Honda stopped. No big deal. We called MacGyver and walked to the nearest shopping center, about a mile away. The interstates in Colorado have some of the nicest paved sidewalks for bikers and runners (as well as parks on just about every corner) and we took our little pup, Grizzy, for a nice little walk. We were even able to eat a yummy dinner at Noodles while we were waiting! We had trouble finding a tow truck so our hero got off work and came and picked us up. We had it towed to our little cabin and MacGyver decided the next day that the timing belt had snapped. We were so thankful it happened less than 10 miles from home, it didn't destroy the engine, and macGyver could fix it at his leisure. God is so gracious! One of my favorite things about MacGyver is he can fix almost anything; hence the nickname! Oh! Here is a picture of Grizzy (who later became Abby), at her new home. Can you see the mohawk between her eyes? So precious!
MacGyver's department had their annual Open House Saturday. He and Tank spent about three hours demonstrating a Search using 5 different bark barrels. The kiddos and I went and had breakfast and checked out some of their equipment, watched 'our boys' work and took the last puppy from our litter, Grizzy, the biggest of the chocolate pups. Four different families wanted her. She ended up settling into the EMS Chief's family, who fell head over heels in love with her. We delivered her to her new home a couple of days later. On the way home, the kiddos were asking their daddy about the hierarchy of Lieutenants, Captains, Chiefs, and Battalion Chiefs. Out of the back seat, Izzy says, "Daddy, is your Italian Chief really Italian?" We laughed and laughed and then explained to her that they are Battalion Chiefs...not Italian Chiefs.
We put the two geldings, Bud and Khayel, in the west pasture behind our house yesterday morning. By noon they had found a low spot in the fence and were out wandering around. We put them back up and patched up the fence and so far they have managed to stay put. Last night Maggie (our Berner) was growling and barking at what I thought was the horses. I kept seeing eyes in the flashlight and didn't know if it was a horse or deer or worse. About 9:00 I went outside once more to see if I could see anything. I heard something tromping through the scrub oak and brush. When I shined my flashlight I was startled to see the LARGEST elk I had ever seen! He stood there for almost 10 minutes staring at us. He must have had a 6 foot spread on those antlers! MacGyver wanted to take him out right there. Boy we need to get a tag...
The kiddos love hanging out and taking care of "their new horses". Sable (she has a star on her forehead) is pregnant and due next June, Amar is the father. The kiddos are excited to be a part of that. We've been working feverishly to get the pasture behind us hot wired and ready for two more. We will be working on "project scrub oak remediation" soon, I'm sure. We will be getting two more geldings tomorrow for the back pasture and in a couple weeks we will be getting a colt and one of the two-year olds. The next thing we will have to do is build a make-shift barn for the little guy. More stories, I'm sure.