December Memories

We keep ‘family history’ here on the website so I want to record my ‘mad dash’ to IA. I finished finals on the first Thursday of December and headed off to Iowa feeling like Santa with my trunk and back seat full of presents. It was a lovely, snowy Colorado picture perfect morning as I began to head east. Little did I know that I would drive the entire 750 miles to ‘the Farm’ in unlovely snow, ice, freezing fog, and almost every other form of precipitation imaginable. The entire trip the temperature was a constant 19 – 21 degrees. No greater variance – it was the craziest thing! As the day waned, I stopped often to scrape off the headlights and windshield. The miles north of Kansas City were the longest, most dangerous, and arduous. By the time, I arrived in Iowa, I had been driving for over 12 hours and on the road for 14. One and a half inches of ice covered the front of the Caddy! This was BEFORE the ice storm!

When I arrived at ‘The Farm’, everyone expected me to pull up in my ‘go anywhere’ Jeep but for road trips, we drive the faithful, more gas conscious Caddy. She had performed like a champ in all the various weather forms and brought me through safely. I truly felt God’s grace as I drove and the miles did not seem long as I worshipped, sorted my thoughts and talked on the phone. A number of you knew I was traveling and I felt your prayers so richly as I traveled! It is such a blessing to have that spiritual aspect to my life! God had asked me to make this quick trip and His faithfulness was manifest, as usual, to see me through.

My Dad had shoulder Rotator Cuff surgery the day before I arrived and was recuperating well. It was good to see everyone, catch up, and get hugs! Alex and his new wife, Stacia, had come down from Ames for my visit. It was great to see the Newlyweds! The house was full and LOUD as we were telling stories and enjoying one another. Pretty typical with all those type ‘A’ or high ‘D’ personalities!

I headed onto Des Moines the next day to be with Matt’s Mom and Dad. Peggy, Matt’s Mom, and I went Christmas shopping, got the wrapping done and still had time for a lunch date! I wore her out, though, and had to leave so she would rest. It is just so hard to be in the same house and not be able to tell stories, laugh, or do a project! I did the laundry, fixed dinner, and ran some errands for her. It was a good visit even if she was under the weather.

On Monday night into Tuesday morning, it started to rain. Rain in December in Iowa is NOT a good thing! It usually creates a mess and that is exactly what happened this time! It rained and rained, especially in Southern IA. Terry was to tell me later it was like an April rain that parks over you and the sky opens up. “The Farm” lost power due to the thick ice coating and that increased the work of daily life for Mom, Terry, Danelle, and Katie. Everyone was busy cleaning up the mess trees made as even the large, older trees snapped effortlessly due to the weight. My Mom had extra work to do with taking care of my Dad, feeding the crew, and keeping the fireplace burning 24/7. There was wood to cut, haul and stack for the fireplace. The ice damaged trees close to the house didn’t last long so off to the ‘north 40’ they went for more ice laden wood. Instead of heading back to Colorado as planned, I headed south to help out. Fortunately, the road maintainer had been by ‘The Farm’ and I could get in on the icy county roads. It was beautiful but treacherous and sad all at the same time. The mature trees were snapped mercilessly everywhere you looked south of Osceola. The landscape looked similar to a bomb scene. I had pictures in my phone camera but can’t seem to get them released so you will have to use your imagination.

We spent a couple of very cold days together! Fortunately, the water was warm for a shower when the cold got to be too much and the fellowship was good. No one, not even Dad who was in pain from the surgery, was a ‘grumpy pants’ for long. It was 6 days without electricity. Just long enough to get somewhat good at living without it but I am sure no one complained when the lights flickered and the electricity returned.

I headed off to Kansas City late in the day on Friday and enjoyed the gracious hospitality of our life friends, the Oakes family. I arrived in time to be whisked off to a Tonka High School basketball game that both sons, Preston and Travis, were playing in. What a treat to be able to watch skilled young men in their sport! It was great being there with all the noise and the excitement. Oh, the emotion! Tonka lost by just a few points in the last minutes of the game which was very disappointing but I still enjoyed watching the potential of those young men. It was great to spend some quality time with Debi and Bob. It has been years since we just sat and talked. It was rich beyond my expectations! There wasn’t much sleep but that can come later! Carpe Diem and the night! I sure hope they were able to stay awake in church the next day! Thank you, Oakes family for your hospitality and to you, Preston, for giving up your bed for me! You are fabulous!

I had been gone too long from my Sweetheart and my Colorado! Early Sunday morning, I headed the Caddy west for the last leg of my winter adventure. It had snowed overnight so I found myself driving on drifted roads in Central Kansas; having to fight the semis for the road. There was only one clear lane in many places and the semi drivers thought it was theirs for the taking. Thankfully, the tires Matt put on the Caddy hug the road with precision and efficiency almost equal to my 4WD Jeep so I could blaze a trail in the opposite lane much to the annoyance of the other drivers. I arrived home in time for a delightful dinner and massage all carefully planned by my awesome husband who just totally ROCKS my world! Thanks, Hon, it was a fabulous end to a long but fulfilling adventure!

The next morning I had to kick Christmas preparations into overdrive! I had shopping to finish and packages that needed to go all over the States. Matt had asked that I not bake this Christmas as we had both gotten a little fluffy and didn’t need extra baggage added to our frames. I did bake a batch of Kristina’s favorite ‘Cowboy’ cookies while Matt was at work. I was able to assemble, bake, pack, and ship them before he came home for lunch so there was no temptation. We hadn’t put up a tree or gotten any decorations out as I had been so busy before I left on the 8th. Not getting back as planned, the traditional family trek to the National Forest for a real tree was out. Josh and Selenda had already gotten a tree and Kristina was in CA, so we were on our own. The local supermarket became ‘Christmas Tree Central’ for us, maybe a ‘leftover’ tree like the one in Snoopy’s Christmas Special was still available. Nope! We ended up in the floral department at the market and bought a lemon cypress topiary and a baby, I do mean baby, cedar tree. (4-5 inches tall – it is cute!) Matt bought a lovely poinsettia as a coming home present prior to my arrival home and that was the extent of our Christmas decorating. We just never got any farther!

Christmas Eve was grand with Josh and Selenda! Matt and I drove to Pueblo and before dinner, Selenda and Josh had taken us out to the stable where their three horses board. That was a treat for us! We had not ‘met’ any of their horses and there was a new addition to the family! Three days before, they had acquired an 8 month old filly by the name of Shady. She is a grey paint and quite sharp! We got to meet her and then also to hear about the future plans for her. We enjoy hearing Selenda discuss the things she knows well –horses being one of those areas. The kids also showed us their horse trailer. Josh is doing some renovation to the living quarters of it so they can comfortably travel this year as they show Shady. Selenda showed me the websites of Shady’s sire, the wedding facility, and the photographer. WOW, on all accounts! The photographer is innovative and does lovely work worthy of our son’s wedding, the facility is elegant and beautiful, and Shady’s sire is a gorgeous HUNK with fabulous conformation!

Christmas Eve dinner later that night was lovely with them. Thanks go to BF Goodrich (Josh’s employer) who provided the ham. Josh cooked it to perfection while Selenda and I contributed to the event with au gratin potatoes, other trimmings, and the traditional Grimes’ cookie plate. It was a delightful time of sharing stories and laughing. The subject matter was a broad range of topics from school – we were all students- to Selenda’s shoulder rehabilitation, family events, and wedding plans. After dinner, there were presents too! It was great watching the kids open all the wonderful gifts sent from their grandparents and family around their beautiful Christmas tree. We loved watching but also opening our own lovely gifts the kids has thoughtfully selected for both of us. No matter how we celebrate Christmas Eve next year, we will savor the memory of our first Christmas Eve with the next generation of the Grimes family. It was a very special, priceless evening for Matt and I.

We had Christmas morning with Kristina by phone. We made her wait to open her presents from us until that morning. Oh, the cruelty! Santa even found her in CA! Can you imagine that – stocking and all! Santa is just the best! I don’t think she left cookies for him this year though. He might not stop for her next year. He doesn’t take too kindly to being ‘stiffed’ with an empty cookie plate! I am sure there is a black mark next to her name on Santa’s list for next year. There were other phone conversations with our families of origin! Sharing stories of what everyone was doing and how the day was being spent with kids going hither and yon, as well as, Matt’s Mom being quite ill with the latest virus. Not the way you want to spend a holiday!! Glad you are back on your feet, Mom!

ITT closes Christmas through New Year’s Day each year so Matt was home for 10 days straight! We spent those days reading, talking, dreaming, researching school options for me, doing year end finances, and planning. I would have loved to have been on the beach somewhere but not this year-quiet, slow paced holiday were needed. We needed reflection time on this first Holiday season, in 27 years, that we were ‘just two’.

Our anniversary falls in the middle of the holiday season on the 30th and often gets pushed back to a January celebration due to all the other activity. We have come to enjoy it that way as it stands out as more of a celebration in January. This year was no exception. Neither of us felt well through much of the holiday season. If one of us felt good, the other didn’t, and vice versa-no time for a celebration. It was probably all that school ‘destressing’ for us both. Matt’s 4.5 year Masters’ haul was a LONG one. Consequently, we waited and had a nice dinner at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants early in January. For those of you counting, it is 31 years! Truly a testimony to God’s grace and strength!

To all of you, we thank you for all you have placed in our lives in 2007- prayers, love, kind words of support, scripture, fellowship or just being there with a comment on the website or in email. We love you and enjoy every contact we have with each of you. Please don’t let time pass and not communicate. Our lives are being unfolded. We do cherish you! May God help you to redeem your time and make each day count. It is a gift that God gave to you, don’t waste it!