Sunday, October 28, 2012

Breaking Things as Art

Well, who knew that breaking things into pieces and gluing them onto something else could be considered "Art." I've never considered myself an artist until a friend of mine who is an incredible artist, introduced me to the art that I have within.....She showed me that I Do have an "eye" and a gift for placing color in beautiful designs. So we broke a few plates together, and she set me free to find my Muse.
It quickly became an addiction.......

Here's a few examples of some of the creations I've made.
Mostly, the colors are broken dishes, cups, chunks of pottery, marbles, and glass "dots" that go into fish aquariums. They are mounted on various pieces of ceramic/pottery stuff.
Can you guess what THIS base might be.'s's a Toilet Tank lid.  Dunno HOW I have come across so many of these, but they make wonderful "yard art," or even fit upon some of your exisiting toilets. 
 This is supposed to be a human/dog dancing.  It was a prize for one of the dog dance competitions that we go to.
Here is another one.......
And another.....

Below is one of the many bowling balls I have "re-created" into a face.  This one is my Nerd.  His glasses are cup handles, and his hat is a lid to the base he is setting on....Any suggestions for a name?
This green guy I named Stoner.  He was a gift to one of my dog dance friends. His nose is a "bonnet" from some figurine that was broken. He is pictured on the turnaround in my Studio.  A nice way of saying that DH Bikeman has agreed to hand over half of the storage barn to my "broken-ness."
And then, there's Pinkie.  She is made from mostly pink Fiesta ware.  She is pictured before she got grouted.
Here she is with her "makeup" on.  Her hat is an upside down vase. I love the green eyes. And the border of yellow hearts for hair. Cup handles for nose and mouth.


 Here's a birdhouse I decorated for Habitat for Humanity auction.  I think it sold for over $100!

 Our birdbath.....remade into something more colorful for the birds' needs.
 Oh, yes....Here's a wonderful mosaic of the heavenly bodies.....It's actually a toilet tank, but I've made it into a planter.  The design goes all around....Jupiter and Mars and Earth are on the other side.  The moon with the cow jumping over it (a cow-shaped cup handle) is on one of the ends.

Finally, here are a few more pictures of a work in progress. It is a turquoise toilet tank lid (from the 60's?), and will be a prize for the Thanksgiving Dance competition in Oklahoma City next month.
First, you draw a design (thanks for the help from my artist friend JT DeShong ), then you stick on the pieces with Liquid Nail.
And here is the finished product.  Wonder whose prize it will be?!
Everyone seems to enjoy these mosiacs in one way or another.  Remember Mrs. Whitworth? Well, she has been with us almost a year now, and truly enjoys being a part of a Home instead of a shelter...One of her favorite passtimes is to sit on the front porch, advertising that This is HER place of residence now.  And forever.  A Mosaic Cat on a Mosiac Chair.  She knew where to land....From broken-ness into something beautiful......




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Moral Issue

Digging in my east garden yesterday. Planting some lavender and sage that a friend gave to me.  Oh, and some "society garlic." 

I love this garden.  Used to be full shade until my neighbor's 100+yr-old tree fell across the fence and had to be cut completely down.

Now the garden is full sun.  Some of the plants, well, most of the plants, are stressing from the full sun since the tree fell.

Now I am trying to replace some of them with plants that will tolerate the heat and the burning sun.

I overturned a ceramic pot, and this is what I saw:


Black Widow spider, right?  Poisonous, right?  Could possibly ruin my day/weekend/life if I came upon her, and she got scared, right?
Prolly should kill her and put me out of my misery.....right?
I turned the pot back over, and will strive to remember where she is from now on....
Yes, it was a moral delimma to me....and the spider won....

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Meet Max

Meet Max.  Approximately 2 years old, neutered male Cocker Spaniel, relinquished by his owner from her kennel when she had to move into a nursing home. He spent most of his young life in a pen with his (intact) sire. Rescued by a very compassionate nurse and taken to her home on several acres out in the county.  Max has run the countryside with his family of dogs for nearly a year, gathering ticks and fleas and lots and Lots of cockleburs and sticktites in his plush sable fur.

Now meet my friend Denise. 

Denise has sent me Max's picture several times, imploring me to please find him a Forever Home.  He's been going up to the highway, trespassing on the neighbor's fields, and generally setting himself up for  a bad ending. Plus, my friend told me, he truly "deserves a home where someone will love and cherish him. And where he can be safe."

I was busy.  I deleted the pictures, and hoped she would not mention it again.

Meet Kathryn.  Baby daughter who lives in Kansas City with our wonderful son in law and two of our grandchildren.

(Here I will insert a piece of advice for you if you have small children in your household: 

If you spend your time when the children are little, trying your very best to raise them into caring, kind, loving human beings, I will guarantee that it will come back to bite you.  Big time.  When you Least expect it.  Certainly when you haven't the Time or the Energy to deal with it.  There is really no escaping it, for they are only repeating the behaviors you have taught them, and Kindness is such a much-needed commodity these days. You cannot say no to it....For if you did, it would then seem that you had been lying to them all these years.) 

And, so, even tho your children have been grown and living their own lives for many years, you never cease being the parent....and, hopefully, their friendwhowilldoanything
....It just never stops.....And I am quite glad of it, truthfully.

Now meet Miranda.  Single mother of two darling children, ages 9 and 4.  She is a friend of Kathryn's, and her sister lives in the cul de sac where Kathryn lives.

Miranda, after many years of being "dogless," decided that the time had come for her to consider adding a canine to her family.  The children were old enough to appreciate and care for a dog, and she was ready now to make the commitment.  So Miranda told her sister.  Her sister told Kathryn.....And Kathryn, knowing that I get several "rescue requests" daily, told me.

When Denise sent me Max's picture for the third time, I finally forwarded it on to Kathryn, knowing full well that this was probably going to be just another dry run request. I had no hope of placing this young dog.  After all, who wants a Cocker Spaniel with huge feet and no socialization? 

Unbeknownst to both Kathryn and me, Miranda's "dog of choice" was a Cocker Spaniel.  She'd had them in the past (pre-children era), and this is the breed that she truly wanted to have again.  As soon as she received Kathryn's email with Max's picture, she called her and firmly told her this dog was "the one."

Okay.  I'm a dog trainer, right?  And a darn good one who Knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that one does Not just choose a dog companion from a photograph.  This is a minimum 15-year commitment.  This is a sentient being, not a car or a bicycle that can be replaced once we tire of its color or its style. You don't just choose it by looking at a digital image.

So Denise and I drove out into the country so that I could lay hands on this dog and assess his temperament, conformation, health, and general makeup.  I took pictures and videos. Sent them to Kathryn. She sent them to Miranda.

Miranda's heart overrode everything practical and logical that I tried to present to her, so I took him home to further evaluate him and give him a bit of a Spa Treatment. Once he was cleaned up and smelling better, parasites eliminated, THEN, perhaps, we could make a more Intelligent judgment call. I'm Not hypercritical, truly, but I DO know that sometimes people can change their minds....
and, bottom line, I didn't want this little guy to be traumatized by floating from one home to another any more than necessary.

Max got a warm bath, pedicure, ear wash, blow dry, anal glands expressed, fleas and ticks combed out, cockle burrs removed, teeth cleaned, and introductions to cats, Collies, water gardens, and men.
After that, a nap was in order.....On my lap.....He snores.

.....He had passed all MY tests and evaluations with flying colors.  Nothing really bothered him (except maybe the embarrassment of that anal gland thang). Had he spent more than one night, DH Bikeman would have insisted he stay on....This dog has rather a magical quality about him.

He slept the night quietly in a kennel beside our bed.  The next morning, I loaded the minivan with 3 dogs (two Collies, one Cocker) and headed for the Northland.

I do not believe I have ever seen a happier adoption.

Welcome to Kansas City, Max.....You handsome, Smart, big-footed little guy.  You have your Forever Family now. 

Many thanks to God for allowing me to be His Agent in all this....Mostly, I just drove the car....Now...where did I put that hairbrush?!

Max is firmly ensconced in this family and living the Dream.  Jacob is driving now, and Avery is in third grade and reading everything in sight.  Next month they will welcome a new member into their family.......A tiny white and striped kitten named Samson.  Rescued from dire circumstances when he was only a day old, Samson already knows the warmth and love of humans and will continue his life in Kansas City. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Staining the Deck

DH Bikeman does not like to be outside for any reason, unless there is a bicycle involved.  So, when Deck Maintenance this summer reared its sizzling head, I was amazed at his total immersion in the task.

He stuck with the job until the final brushstroke, and even admitted that he had a fun time.

I, of course, reveled in the time outside together, and rejoice in the Final Product of a nicely-repaired and sealed deck.   

Bikeman doesn't listen to music "casually," so we didn't have the radio or ipod playing while we labored.  It's distracting. He says that he "writes down" every note when he hears music, so I just don't even push the issue when we work on a project together.  Instead, we talk.  We talk a LOT.  Lots.  Lots and Lots. 

At one point, I asked him, "What tune is playing in your head right now?"

This man, who performs in a major symphony and has a doctorate in music, replied, "You Are My Sunshine."  .........

"What tune is in YOUR head?" he asked me.

"Un Bel Di, from Puccini's Madam Butterfly......."....................................

go figger.....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Confessions of a Collie Mom

1)  I have brushed out a Collie without spritzing
      him with water.
      a) but of, course, under no circumstances should one neglect the water when brushing out the      
          nether regions......

 2)  I have yelled out un-Christian names to my Collies when  their feet refuse to stay on the grooming table.
      a)  none of the neighbors ever complained
      b)  DH Bikeman looked at me askance and asked if I   needed to "give him a break" from brushing.

 3)  I have jerked on the leash in correcting my Collies.
      a)  did no good whatsoever with James.
      b)  caused Prosper (the one who so lovvvveeees his Mommy) to shut down immediately
      c)  created a buttload of Guilt on the part  of the Mommy.
           i) not worth the Guilt.

 4)  I have bicycled with my Collies at speeds over 11mph.
      a)  and Prosper still insisted on stopping to pee
      b)  I think he was trying to write his name
      c)  if he had needed to "dot an i" he probably would have popped the leash

 5)  Some mornings I don't let the boyz out until after 10 am
      a)  I like to sleep in, stay up late
      b) James has the biggest bladder in the world.

 6)  I dremel my Collies' nails every Friday
      a) and they still believe that I am trying to kill them
      b) sometimes I skip a week
      c) neither of them complain if I skip a week.

 7)  I always lock up the van when I leave the boyz in the  van.  
      a)  even tho I leave the windows halfway down

 8)  I always feed the boyz at the same time every evening.
      a)  unless, of course, it is very hot outside, then I wait till the world cools down a little.
      b)  unless, of course, I get sidetracked with mosaic'ing or digging in the yard.
      c)  unless, of course, I forgot to thaw something out earlier in the day.

 9)  Dogs are not allowed on the furniture
      a)  Prosper seems to think that he is
      b)  I shall always rejoice that my dogs are "young" enough to jump onto the couch.
10) Dogs are not allowed to sleep in the bed.
      a)  sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night sleeping on one quarter of the mattress.

11) I make sure that I am prompt and uptodate on flea prevention.
      a)  this spring we had a Big Infestation
      b)  treating twice in one month was a Necessity

12) Daily Training is imperative.
      a) somedays all we do is "commercial" training
          i) defined as "training during TV commercials."
      b) dogs do not understand about "too hot" "too cold" or "too wet" to train
      c)  training daily leads to we Must train daily or they will become self-employed

13) I am able to walk over a mile with my Collie off lead.
      a)  this "validates" the question, "what good is it to perform this task in Obedience trials?"
      b)  the less control I exhibit over them, the more control I seem to have.
           i) Dang, you, Barbara Janelle!
          ii) is this Zen or Tao?
      c)  I have wonderful heeling behavior off lead.
           i) once again....Dang you, Barbara!

14) Chasing cats is Not Allowed in our household.
       a)  unless, of course, the cat runs away.
            i) our cats do not run away.
       b)  Prosper has his  very own cat

15) Barking is Not Allowed to excess in our household.
      a) which brings us to the question:  what IS "excess"?
      b) yelling dammit shutUP is ineffective.
      c) sometimes ya just gotta sing!

16) Jumping up onto my chest is cause for correction.
      a) this is also a huge reward for Prosper
      b) I use this behavior in the performance ring when food rewards are not allowed.

17) Teaching your dog to retrieve is a Good Thang.
       a) make sure that you have an Otterbox on your iPhone.
       b) do not drop your panties/bra/jammies onto the floor.
           i) this can become embarrassing when you have male guests over.

18) Collies are extremely drawn to children.
      a) their movements tend to slow down and they become more gentle.
      b)  they will leave you in the Obedience/Agility/Dance ring to interact with a child in the

19) I am frequently asked, "Do Collies shed?"
      a) Wish I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me that.
      b)  Hopefully, you who are reading this, know the answer.
      c)  Collie Wool spins into some very warm yarn.
           i) I have the name of a Very Wonderful Spinner if you want to save your Collies' wool.
          ii) I can teach you how to knit.
      d)  I vaccuum every day.
          i)  I own a Dyson vaccuum.

20) Statistics say that the "average" pet owner spends $200 a year on vet bills.
       a)  I tripled that amount in 2 days last month.
            i)  Worth every penny.
       b)   having a healthy, Annoying Collie is a most wonderful thing.
       c)  good veterinarians have a Special place in Heaven.

21)  I change the water bowls in our house about 4x a day.
       a)  and the towels underneath the bowls.

22)  Having Collies in our midst has been a Great Joy in our lives.
       a)  I waited almost 50 years to find this out.
       b)  here's hoping I have another Collie in me......... 




Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day, 1973

My first Mother's Day wherein I celebrated my own motherhood took place 39 years ago.  Emily turns 40 this year....oh, my.....

We were in church. A tiny little Methodist Church in southern New Jersey.  Rob was stationed in the Navy across the Delaware River in Philadelphia, and we chose to live off base in a tiny little town called Lindenwold. One mile down the pike was a beautiful, idyllic, Brigadoon-ish type church, called "Gibbsboro Methodist." We joined it our first Sunday after we arrived in NJ, newly married, full of hope and anticipation of our joined lives.

Right away they gave us some cast-off furniture which had been buried in the attic of the parsonage.....We had nothing except a bedstead and a dining room table. They saw our need, and with the help of some strong men of the church, they filled our tiny apartment with their old, unused, antiques. We are still using them today, 41 years later.

The congregation quickly enveloped this newlywed couple into their fold, assigning us jobs and bringing out our inner gifts to serve the Lord. They smiled indulgently at my thick Southern accent, were duly impressed at Rob's job as Lead Trumpet in the Admiral's Band, and treated us like family.  Family that we had left behind thousands of miles away.....We were no longer alone in the big sea of the metropolitan throng.....We were now intimate and close knit with our Church Home.

Oh, yes.....Mother's Day, 1973. Emily Ellen was 6 months old. We were in church.  Rob was the choir director, and sat up front in the loft. I was in the congregation, Emily close by my side (because I was young, and very unsure about leaving this baby with anyone else in the whole she played quietly beside me during the service).

Emily began enjoying the service a bit too much (never, Ever a fussy baby, just very happy and very vocal---SOMEthings never change.....), so I inched down the aisle with her to the back of the sanctuary.

Gibbsboro United Methodist Church was housed in a very old, beautiful building, built sometime in the early 1900's.  Their stained glass windows on either side of the pews displayed Bible stories and also the names of the folks who had long ago paid for their beauty.  The bottom portion of the windows actually swung down, on a chain, to allow the fresh air to circulate. No air conditioner. Southern New Jersey weather, at least back then, was balmy, even in the summertime.

Towards the back of the sanctuary, right before the vestibule, were some stairs, probably 20 of them, leading down to the basement and our Adult Sunday School classroom.

I took baby Emily down those stairs, put her on a blanket on the carpet, tossed some toys around, then climbed back up to the top of the stairs where I could continue to view the service and hear the music....and also watch my baby one flight down......

I stood singing beside the 6 ft+ tall usher, Russ Burk, my eyes ever assessing the child downstairs, agreeing with Russ (her surrogate, New Jersey grandfather) that she was, indeed, the Most beautiful baby in the Whole World.

As the Worship Committee acknowledged the "oldest" mother, the "youngest" mother (that would be me), the mother who had the most children, the mother with the oldest child, etc, I stood in the back, vigilantly watching my baby girl downstairs, while trying to pay attention to the activities in the front of the church as well.  Emily was happily playing on her tummy, and then it happened......

The little bitty human looked up at me, grinned in recognition, slipped her leg under her tummy......and sat up for the Very First Time!  Smiling triumphantly at her achievement, she collapsed to her prone position again, then succeeded again in sitting upright.

I wanted to scream and yell and tell the Whole World of my baby's accomplishment, but Worship was going on, and it was a time of quiet and introspection.  I looked over at my friend Russ, who had also observed our Emily's incredible attainment.  I mutely looked up at him, my eyes full of tears.  He looked down at me and softly said, "Happy Mother's Day."

It is a moment I shall always remember.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Collie Nationalsb 2012

Here's a post from my new iPad. DH Bikeman got it for me last week. Said I would need it in my upcoming travels north. So here goes---we'll see if it is easy to do...

At any rate, it will not be a waste of money.....playing the game "Water?" is SO much fun on the bigger screen.

I'm here. I'm here in Pennsylvania at the 2012 Collie National Specialty.

Set up day was today. We've got our grooming areas set up and looking SO cool. Brenda ordered ex-pen covers with our logos to match last year's banners. They are just about beyond elegant!

Tomorrow Prosper is entered in Rally Excellent. Thurs we're gonna finish up his Novice. Obedience.

Since we have only been working on Dancing for the past six mos, the next two days should be Quite Entertaining. I'll take pictures tomorrow on this new gadget and post em here.

Dawgs are spread out on the floor like cheap pieces if carpet.

In the meantime, I'm gonna see if I can achieve another level of "Water?". Then maybe read a few chapters if the Hunger Games....More tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Me:  (after solving a complicated problem together)  We really are one, you know.

Him: Yes, we really are one.

Me: (several days later. I was outside cutting off the dead top of the Pampas grass, getting ready for its new growth this spring)  Thanks for bringing me the garden gloves.  You know, if I were really gonna do this right, I would set this stuff on fire, let it burn down to the ground. 

Him:  And that would kill it for good?! (smiling)

Me: would improve its growth, make it healthier.....

Him:  You know, we really are one......There's just two different parts to the one......

He hates working in the yard....And I adore it...
Adds up nicely......

Friday, February 10, 2012

Prosper (Lochlaren The Plans I Have For You), and his Very Own Cat

The Christmas Season was already upon us, and our local pet store offered “pictures with Santa” the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  My Collies exploded into the building, fur flying, noses chuffing, eyes shining at all the wonderful new sights and people.

The line for pictures was rather long, but waiting is never a problem for these boys.  They will Always find something interesting to occupy their time, and today was no exception. Children were everywhere, so they were quick to offer their paws for treats and pets.  Other pets in line glared at my fuzzy dogs with disdain and despair and downright iciness.  These Collies’ very Presence literally Fill up a room with their energy and electricity. They just do that. They are Collies, and that is their way.

In an effort to “tone down” some of the “bigness” of the boys, I put them on a down-stay and sat on the floor with them to wait for our turn with Santa Claus.  It was then that my blue merle Collie spotted a beautiful blue merle CAT in a cage nearby.  He managed to stay down….but do that “guerilla warfare” crawl towards the kitty. 

Working hard to get close to his new friend, Prosper pushed his long Collie nose into the cage that belonged to perhaps the most beautiful stained glass calico cat I had ever seen.  Their eyes met, and it was obvious that there was a communication going on between them that we mere humans could only dream about.

Pictures done.  Santa suitably smoozed and kissed, we exited the store with Prosper looking longingly over his shoulder to his feline friend.

Back home, I told my husband about the unusual draw that the cat and Collie had on each other.  We had both seen her in the store some months earlier, and had wondered aloud as to Why she had not yet been adopted.  She was so very beautiful, and, seemingly, so calm and sedate and peaceful.  A beautiful cat like that should have found a home very quickly.  Interesting. A mystery. Something that we could not quit thinking about.

So I returned to the pet store on Monday and volunteered to take her home with me, to “foster” over the Thanksgiving holidays.  The Humane Society did not yet know how she would react to dogs or children or, truthfully, any other “established” cats in the home.  So it would be our job to give her these opportunities for evaluation.

As I was signing her out, I discovered, by looking at her records, that she had a “rap sheet” several miles long.  This cat had come into the shelter 4 years ago as a kitten overcome with intestinal bacteria infection and had been in and out of homes like so many juvenile delinquents.  This pretty girl? Surely not! 

Oh, yes, I was told….She’d torn up the houses of her former owners.  She was incorrigible and wild and unable to negotiate with. Perhaps the best place for her, after all, was the institution of the Shelter, for she had no skills for living in a home with humans.   Oh, brother! What had I let myself and my husband and our “balanced” household of cats and dogs in for?!!!

I clipped her nails before we left the store.  Nestled her into the vari-kennel in the van, and drove directly home.

Prosper was ecstatic!  This was HIS cat, and his joy knew no bounds!  For days he was the only one to whom she would speak. Basically she slept in her crate and came out to eat and potty.  So Prosper stayed very close to her. 

When I ran the vacuum, Prosper would stand (calmly) between the vac and her. When folks came to the door, he would immediately take them to see his new kitty.  When he laid on the floor, she would rub up against him and purred for the first time.

She FLEW through the house when un-crated in the mornings. Unbounded and unfettered, her freedom was a thing of bounteous Joy.    She gently touched and nosed everything in the house, making it hers in a very self-possessed manner.  She greeted the other resident cats quite cordially, and gently wooed the sable Collie, allowing him also to become one of her loyal subjects. We all seemed to line up to declare her permanence in our family.

Needless to say, we have failed “Fostering l01” and have come forward with a commitment to keeping this lovely lady forever in our home. She and my husband have bonded unlike any other animal we have ever had. She adores him and insists on getting in his lap anytime he decides to sit down. 

She has been nothing but a perfect lady, reigning as the only female pet in our household. Her name at the shelter had been “Bumblebee,” yet we thought that a more dignified name was befitting such a classic lady, and so her name is “Mrs. Whitworth.”  So named after one of the most charming women in our community.

She’s home. She’s home to stay for the rest of her lives. Prosper?  He’s quite content to have his very own cat to love and care for.  Forever. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Training for Life

Example of a Really Good Husband:

Me (trying on a costume for upcoming Dog Dancing Competition): "Okay...THIS is gonna be a Double-Spankx outfit...."

Him: "What ARE Spankx? I heard them talking about it the other night on the Golden Globe Awards."

Me: (doffing the costume, struggling with the "compression garment" out of sight of HIM, then re-dressing with the Star Wars costume) " ya go!  See! It makes my legs notsofat." (slightly out of breath at the extreme effort to squeeze everything in...)

Him: "I think you look Better without them." (then headed off to take his bicycle outside and ride)

It takes At Least 40 years to train that response.....

I'm gonna keep him one more day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Catching up???

Time is flying by.  Literally. I look up every week, expecting it to be Monday, and it is Thursday already.  WHAT is Happening?  Is this the way Time behaves when we are 60?  I thought this was our "slowing down" era of Life....

ANYway...This is my *excuse* for not having posted in several months.  I just neeeeed to sit down and write.

 Prosper and I went to several dog shows this fall. Here he is getting a point. We did not achieve our "goal" of finishing this year, but hoping that we will in the next few months.

The Pendergrass Family came over for Thanksgiving. My dear friend, Denise, invited the children out to go horseback riding.

They also went ice skating at our local ice skating rink! Quite amazing to see them taking to it so quickly.

Of course, the boyz and I rang the bells for Salvation Army again this year. We raised over $400 in the cold, winter weather.

PetSense offered a picture session for Santa and our pets. The boyz posed like movie stars...Santa fell in love, too...

Christmas, as always, was a wonderful, idyllic occasion, and full of wonderful memories. 

We all converged at Branson, MO and stayed in a very nice house with FIVE bedrooms on the lake! Mostly, we just enjoyed the time together and ate lots of yummy food. We toured a cave, spent an evening at Silver Dollar City, and took several walks in the woods, discovering treasure and collecting rocks.  

Here's my boys solving important problems of the world....And, of course, there is always a Collie in the picture.....


Kathryn planned on "not getting out of my pajamas" all day.....So far, she is succeeding.

Santa Claus came for the children. The adults' "gift" to each other was the time spent together

"What th HECK is This?!!" they all wanted to know! Itsa sun catcher made out of those big chunks of glass and beads.....Okay, so Mom has too much time on her hands.....

We did not do the "after Christmas" sales as we have in the past.....Instead we went to Talking Rocks Cavern.

As you can see, this was Emily's very Favorite activity. I think she will remember this for years to come!

It was truly a magnificent place The Creator built for us on this planet.....I am sure that He just couldn't WAIT for us to see it! Here's hoping He has the same anticipation for us to see Carlsbad someday (it's on my Bucket List). 

Samuel is still pretty little, so his dad got to carry him thruout the tour. Reminded me of my family telling me that MY daddy carried ME thru Mammoth Cave many years ago when I was a baby, in spite of his morbid fear of closed in spaces (he'd been buried alive several yrs before during WWII....drs said he'd never walk again....He went on to father 2 more children---AND earn a living as a postman).

Put Bailey Rose anywhere Near me, and she will do whatever I do....She loved the cave as much as I did......

Grace will probably always appreciate a good cape....or any other piece of costume....
We also took a trip to Silver Dollar City nearby. Stayed till after dark, when the Magnificent light show! came parading down the street! I did NOT want to leave, even tho our hands and feet were frozen solid, and we were all ready for a Good Meal of something besides corn dogs and fry bread. I LOVE Branson at Christmas!!!  The tree is as tall as the one on Rockefeller Square!

 Ah! Yes! Kathryn DID get out of her recliner every once in a while! 

And the Food! OH! I wish I had taken pictures of the burgeoning kitchen! We ate SO well....Mikey got up every morning (well, the first 3 of the 4---last one we were packing up) and cooked breakfast for us all. I had brought several pounds of Blue and Gold bacon, and that is all the incentive he needed to become fry cook! The last day, Grace perched up on her bar stool, and told Uncle Mike she wanted "bacon, eggs, and some chocolate milk." I'm thinking she just got very accustomed to his taking her breakfast orders....after 3 mornings of doing her bidding.