Category Archives: photos

Farmhouse Christmases Past

2014-05-10-16-03-25

Several years ago, we stopped celebrating Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma’s farmhouse because they moved “to town” where they could have more help. The memories thirty Christmases before that are etched deeply in my memories. (OK, to be honest, I probably don’t actually remember the first two.)
When we drove through their tiny town and followed the curving highway out the other side, we would look across the empty fields to see the white barn. As kids, we always tried to be the first to shout, “I see the barn!” We would drive down the long gravel drive to park near the end of the sidewalk that led to the back door. As we unloaded food and gifts to carry them up the sidewalk, Grandpa would come out the door wearing his puffy warm vest over his work overalls and greet us with a loud “Merry Christmas!” and hugs at the top of the stairs. Sometimes we arrived and stayed several days before Christmas and some years we went only for the day, but the greeting was always the same.

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Appreciating the Ordinary (& a Giveaway)

Living Between Milestones | StairStories.com
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Sometimes it seems that we live only for highlights between ordinary days. Some of us live on weekends between work weeks or on holidays between classes. We seem in-between when we are out of school but not working, working but not at the jobs we want, working and not yet retired. We feel in-between when we are adults but not married, married but without children, have children who do not yet sleep through the nights, and so on.

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What I’m Into: February 2016

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Where is the year going?  It feels like everything is rushing by while I try to keep up with relationships and teaching and college ministry and church and housework. I have been brainstorming for some upcoming posts, so stay tuned while I try to find time to post more than once a month every couple months.

 

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What I’m Into: December 2015

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This was the first Christmas that I was teaching college instead of working at the high school, so it was nice to have the longest break I have had since I graduated from college. As I told Brian, this was the best Christmas I have had since we got married. The first Christmas, I had a cold and then threw my back out by coughing too hard. The second Christmas, I had a cold that turned into a sinus infection and sent me to urgent care two days before Christmas (my mom also got the flu that year, so she and dad both missed out on our family celebration). This year, none of us were sick so everyone made it and seemed to enjoy our time together.

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What I’m Into: July 2015

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Travel 

We made a short trip to Wyoming at the beginning of July.

Products

Method Pink Grapefruit All Purpose Cleaner is marvelous for getting grease and gunk off my microwave, stove, and counters.

Harvey Prince Ageless Perfume smells like summer and grapefruit and is my new favorite scent. As I am writing this, I just realized I must be in some sort of grapefruit-scented phase… There are definitely worse phases, though!

Around the House

I was out of my usual powdered buttermilk when making waffles, so I turned to these buttermilk substitutes.

As a kid, I always made tartar sauce out of mayo, ketchup, and relish. This month, I decided to broaden my horizons and made “fancy” tartar sauce, using Ina Garten’s recipe. Brian and I both decided that it is worth keeping in on hand to garnish the various fish entrees we have once or twice a week.

This week, I learned that grease-cutting dish soap plus hot water can unclog a toilet that has a fat- or protein-based clog. I’m not sure that it would work on paper-based clogs.

Watching

On my DVR: Rizzoli & Isles, Stitchers, Girl Meets World, selections from a Harry Potter marathon, Descendants (haven’t watched that last one yet).

On Netflix: Trying Army Wives for the first time, re-enjoying NCIS Season 1.

Listening

Brian says I soundtrack my life and I tend to agree. Highlights from my current playlist of favorites are:
The Likes of Us, self-titled album
Tyrone Wells, Best Of Sampler (especially Sea Breeze!)
Dave Barnes, Hymns for Her

Favorite Reads from around the Web

According to the NYTimes quiz, I am a Thinking/Social introvert.

How many English words do you know? This quiz estimates my vocabulary to be around 29,400, which I think is a bit low.

Exercise

Our local dog park has become a favorite evening hangout spot for us. We first took Cola when she was a timid four-month-old and she hid under a picnic table most of the time. This summer she is a slightly bolder, fun-loving one-year-old who tries to befriend all the other dogs and convince them to run with her. Two of her favorite running buddies are a wiry Italian greyhound and a peppy terrier. The dog park has not only been good for Cola learning how to socialize with other dogs but also for interacting with humans.

In recent months, she has been scared of many strangers and some of our friends whether we meet them on walks or whether they come to our house.  Since the dog park is so very fun and distracting for her, she does not mind the people there and even seems to like our fellow regulars. Next, we will try to get her un-terrified of children! (She had a bad experience with a “scary” four-year-old boy.) Video of Cola playing at the park.

Dog Park Rules Dog Park

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Some affiliate links included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Adventures in Wyoming

Road Trip with an Emergency Room Stop

If you have been following my Instagram or Twitter, you know Brian and I traveled with my parents to Wyoming to visit Mom’s side of the family. On the way, we stopped to visit my grandpa in Loveland, Colorado, where he has been recovering from a fall and broken leg. Unfortunately, he fainted during physical therapy and we had to have our first visit in a nearby ER. After hours of tests, the medical staff determined that he was fine and sent him back to the rehab center.

Going to the emergency room

Sightseeing

While in Laramie, we took a few hours to have touristy adventures, visiting the Pyramid of the Plains and hiking at Vedauwoo. In a couple places, Dad and I climbed around on rocks while Mom and Brian stayed near the trail and took pictures of us.
Brian & I at Pyramid of the Plains

Pyramid of the Plains plaque

Vedauwoo Warning

hiking, rock climbing, Wyoming

Hiking, mountains, Wyoming

Hiking, rock climbing, Wyoming

Hiking, mountains, Wyoming

Hiking, mountains, Wyoming

Coffee & Books

During an afternoon coffee run, I took my parents exploring and found a lovely, homey coffee shop and secondhand bookstore in a hipster-esque neighborhood of Laramie. If you are in Laramie, check out Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse.

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse

Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse

I had such a good time visiting with the rest of our Wyoming family that I didn’t mess with taking photos while we were with them, so feel free to use your imagination to see that part of our trip!

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What I’m Into: May 2015

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Celebrations & Travel 

We had lots of celebrations with friends and family this month. We traveled to Tulsa for a surprise birthday party for Brian’s cousin, Mark.
Surprise Party | StairStories.com

We celebrated the graduation of some of our favorite Barton students (let’s be real, we have a lot of favorites). It was also my first Barton commencement ceremony to attend as faculty, so that was fun!
Barton Graduation 2015 | StairStories.com

We celebrated Mother’s Day in Ottawa with my extended family.
Mother's Day 2015 | StairStories.com

Products

I tried the OPI Gel Color I Eat Mainely Lobster. It is a summery, vivid coral color that looks fun and summery on my toenails. I tried it on my fingernails but it seemed to clash with some of my pink, red, or purple clothing.
OPI I Eat Mainly Lobster | StairStories.com

In my May Birchbox, I tried jane iredale Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain in Forever Pink. In the tube, it looks like a pale pink balm. The stain goes on lightly pink but brightens a bit over several minutes.
Jane Iredale Lip & Cheek Stain, Forever Pink | StairStories.com
Jane Iredale Lip & Cheek Stain, Forever Pink | StairStories.com

Around the House

I am propagating Christmas cactus from the one I inherited from my grandma when she and Grandpa moved out of their farmhouse. As best I know, the original is at least a decade old. Grandma could not remember when she got it.
Christmas Cactus | StairStories.com

Mint is currently taking over my vegetable garden because Cola knocked over the flowerpot where I planted it last year. Does anyone have good recipes that use lots of fresh mint???
Mint Garden | StairStories.com

Favorite Reads from around the Web

Exercise

Brian and I have been taking Cola on longer and longer walks this month. This week we are up to two miles at a time.

During Jazzercise’s May promotion, my friend Jessica invited me to try a free class. I did Jazzercise about ten years ago, but the instructor in my hometown moved away and it was no longer offered. I enjoy the exercise even though I lack coordination at footwork and rhythm.

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Some affiliate links included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Lows & Highs: A Family Visit

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

No Lows for Me!

I cannot think of a low from the past week, so I am diving straight into my highs.

Family Highs

Brian and I took a road trip to visit my side of the family over the weekend.

Brian and I took a road trip to visit my side of the family over the weekend.

Grandpa is out of the hospital & the pneumonia is gone!

Grandpa is out of the hospital & the pneumonia is gone!

We celebrated my grandma's 93rd birthday on her actual birthday.

We celebrated my grandma’s 93rd birthday on her actual birthday.

My aunt & uncle brought their adorable grandson, Nathan, to the birthday party. He is my first cousin once removed, but that makes it sound so very complicated.

My aunt & uncle brought their adorable grandson, Nathan, to the birthday party. (He is technically my first cousin once removed, but that makes it sound so very complicated.)

I tried to get Nathan to pose for a photo with me, but it was too windy & sunny for this tired guy to smile at the camera!

I tried to get Nathan to pose for a photo with me, but it was too windy & sunny for this tired guy to smile at the camera!

We spent the rest of the weekend having a sort of “make-up visit” with my parents, postponed from Christmas break due to illness. It was fun and relaxing and just what I needed. I had really been missing them!

How has your week been?

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A Blu-ish Christmas & Happy New Year

Blu-ish Christmas

Ever since our last day of school on December 19, I have been on an unplanned hiatus from blogging and most social media. I caught a cold before school ended for the break but thought I was getting better. The first two nights of our Christmas trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Tulsa, I spiked a moderate fever. On Monday, I went to an urgent care center and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. Even with three prescriptions, it took me nearly a week to feel remotely normal again. I still have a cough but have much more energy and no longer sound like a frog when I talk.

Christmas Eve Bows

Off My Game

Once on antibiotics, I was not contagious so I still joined in on game night, dinners, and other gatherings with friends and family. Much of the week was fun but I felt mentally and physically fuzzy. I slept in, took naps, and sat around watching Doctor Who. If I saw you in the few days before Christmas and seemed sad or cranky, I just did not feel well and struggled to think straight. I was so out of sorts, I didn’t even drink coffee for two or three days because the taste was completely unappetizing.

Christmas

On Christmas Eve morning, we found out my mom had the flu. Since she and Dad did not want to get anyone sick, especially my elderly grandparents or two-year-old nephew, they decided to stay home for Christmas. On Christmas Day, Brian and I had breakfast and stockings with his parents his sister, Shanna, and then drove to my aunt & uncle’s house three hours away. In Ottawa, we celebrated with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, five siblings (counting the ones who married in), and a nephew.

Christmas Day Prep
Christmas Day Eli

Since it was on our way, Brian and I picked up Dad and Mom’s gifts for everyone else and dropped off the gifts to them on our way back to Tulsa at the end of the day. We also Facetimed with them so they could see and chat with everyone during gift-opening time. We intended to stay with my parents from Christmas Day until Monday but they suggested we visit another time, when they are less contagious. Brian and I (and Cola) came home on the 26th and have spent several relaxing days at home, resting and recuperating. It has been very nice!

Cola sleeps with her new toy

Happy New Year!

By New Year’s Eve, Brian and I were feeling much better. We rang in 2015 by playing board games with a few college students who were in town. We taught them how to play our version of Golf-the-card-game, played a Battle of the Sexes card game, and then split into groups to play either Settlers of Catan or Life.

How were your Christmas and New Year holidays?

 

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Lows & Highs: Dancing & Sleeping In

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

Missed Sleeping Opportunity

On Wednesday, I was dragging and had to drag myself out of bed. It was not until I was almost to school that I realized it was a late start day and I did not have to be at school until nine. Instead of driving all the way back home, I drove a couple blocks farther to my favorite coffee shop, sipped a gingerbread Americano, and read a book. I really would have liked to sleep in, though!

Party Time!

We have had lots of seasonal social activities this week!

On Thursday, we met with our Barton students for our last Campus Christian Fellowship Bible study of 2014. We talked about celebration and treasuring experiences in our hearts and what we have noticed God doing this semester. I loved hearing some of the students share!

On Friday, Brian and I had a three-part date night. First, we went to the college Christmas party and visited with some of his coworkers with their spouses. Second, we had dinner at The Page. Finally, the highlight of the evening – and my whole week – was the Jingle Bell Swing! We danced and chatted and watched the Barton Hilltop Singers (show choir).

Jingle Bell Swing Date Night Tickets
Us on Jingle Bell Swing Date Night

On Saturday, we had First Friday Game Night that we rescheduled from Friday so we could have date night at the dance. Boy, was the house packed! We had raucous games going at two different tables at one point.

College Student Game Night
College Student Game Night

On Sunday, I played with toddlers in the church nursery and we packed our table full of college students again for lunch.

College Student Sunday Lunch

College Student Sunday Lunch

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