Live Nativity 2014

IMG_8173 (1024x768)Once a year, anyone can be an angel…or a shepherd…or a wiseman.

This year at our church’s live nativity display, Bryon and I were Joseph and Mary and despite our procrastination in signing up we scored the coveted manger scene. The best things about the manger scene?

#1 the barn is a windbreak

#2 the animals are entertaining

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#3 the ding dang baby sheep this year stole the entire show.

Grace was an angel. Again.

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This live nativity is a huge production and was the brainchild of Jan Robertson. It takes many, many volunteers to man each of the scenes. The church members also feed all of the volunteers over the three nights the nativity is held. The event is open to the public for two hours for three nights in December.

I think this is the fifth year we’ve participated.

You missed out this year. Like us on Facebook and join us next year at Marshfield United Methodist Church.



Miss Merry Christmas 3rd Grade Rides in the Niangua Christmas Parade

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Last year was Niangua’s first-ever Miss Merry Christmas pageant. Grace won for her third grade class with her brownie-making demonstration. She even got a nice appreciation package from Betty Crocker after I posted her picture to their Facebook page. You can read about it here.

She was over the moon and coveted that tiara like a princess. She was supposed to get to wear her crown and ride in the Niangua Christmas parade but it got cancelled due to ice and snow.

This year she got her wish.

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The motorcycle group Bikers Against Child Abuse, B.A.C.A,. sponsored a Breakfast with Santa prior to the parade.

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IMG_8112 (1024x768)I’ve gotta say I was digging the biker Santa.

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In a cool turn of fate, Bryon got to drive her car. He’d driven our high school homecoming queen one year. I can’t find a picture of that day, but as fun as that was for him, this was much better.

They were both excited to get to drive/ride in a cool new car from Marshfield Chevrolet. When he arrived, they gave him a brand new, red Chevy pickup. Erm, cool but he drives a brand new red, GMC pickup. Nothing too special about that. Still, he drove it back to Niangua and planned to make the best of things.

When he got back to the parking lot to line up though, one driver had three high school girls to drive and a two-door Ford Mustang from Don Vance Ford to escort them in. Bryon and the other drive made the switch and he ended up in this cool ride instead.


The real irony and the completion of the circle of awesome is his first (and favorite) car was a 1972 Mustang Mach I. It looked VERY much like this one. All this car needed was some black racing stripes.

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Some things are just worth the wait.

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Niangua has a population of 405 people.

Want to see the entire parade? Here it is…all ten minutes of it.


A brush with the King. Stephen that is.

Photo from Rainy Day Books’ FB page

I almost missed the boat on my chance to see Stephen King in the flesh. Thankfully, my author friend, Beth Carter, saved my bacon and produced a ticket for me at the last minute.

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Beth Carter and Lisa Medley on the Plaza in Kansas City, MO.


I had seen a post on Facebook that Stephen King was going to be in Kansas City. The appearance was sponsored by an independent bookstore called Rainy Day Books. I wanted to go. For whatever reason though I hesitated.

IMG_7972 (1024x768)The next morning, after I had decided I wanted to go, I checked the site again and they were already sold out.


Folks, carpe diem. Every time. Because if you don’t seize the day, you’ll miss the day.

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I’d given up until Beth said a few of the friends and family she’d thought would want to go bailed out on her.

Photo from Rainy Day Books’ FB page



Photo from Rainy Day Books’ FB page


I said yes, immediately. Even though it was three hours away. And after dark in KC. On a weeknight.

Getting to eat at the Cheesecake Factory was an incentive as well.

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The man is a writing legend. And not getting any younger.

It was so worth the trip.


Stephen King is such an inspiring guy, both as a writer and as a human being. His book On Writing is one of the pivotal books that pushed me to make the plunge into writing.

Talk about a guy who’s spent a lifetime seizing the day.

A Mighty Muskie on Pomme de Terre Lake, MO

10696198_810727605616031_1881087629993649678_nBryon got a chance to scope out the water with his friend Troy before a big fishing tournament Troy was preparing for. Bryon wasn’t going to participate in the tournament, but Troy needed a buddy to help him find the fish beforehand. Troy and his regular fishing partner have placed in the Top Four every year. The fish Bryon caught would have won this year.

After twenty-one hours of fishing over two days, Bryon landed this beast. It was a 43″ long. They were fishing in Pomme de Terre lake, which is known for its Muskellunge, stocked regularly since 1966 so dedicated fisherman have an opportunity to catch trophy-sized muskie.

10599683_810727675616024_8074338660098722049_nThey used some super, heavy-duty tackle. Bryon was worn out after an entire day of throwing these suckers and retrieving them. He wasn’t complaining though. Troy caught two smaller muskies and had two follows. Bryon saw two other fish, one of which short struck his bait. The other followed the bait to the boat and then turned away. That fish dwarfed the one he caught.

10646795_810727628949362_3705469138489451658_nI’d say this counts as a trophy-sized fish.

He threw that big fish back to live another day.

Firecracker Float

Two days and twenty river miles. Great kayaking on the Eleven Point. Hardly any boats on the water even though it was July 4th weekend.

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IMG_6942 (1024x768) (800x600)We slept on the river bank.

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IMG_6944 (768x1024) (600x800)Grace could spend hours netting critters from the water.

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Grace loved filtering water. She filled all of our bottles several times.

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Beef stroganoff for us all.IMG_6950 (768x1024) (600x800)

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Chillaxin’.IMG_6958 (1024x768) (800x600)

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We ended the trip at Uncle Rooster’s and signed the floor.

Birthday, Birds and Basketball

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Here it comes, the October super post. Oops. Guess it’s November. See how that happens. Anyway, grab an iced tea and sit back.


Grace celebrated her NINTH birthday in October. We have had some giganitic birthdays and some small birthdays. Last year we had the first ever haunted trail for her birthday/Halloween party with more than thirty kids plus parents. This year we took it down a notch and had a sleepover. Fear not kidlets, next year the Haunted Trail is back on the agenda and it’s going to be SCARY! Some of the kids complained because it was not scary.

Trust me. We can DO scary. Just. You. Wait.

Sorry, Marah, you may have to go through in daylight.

Not to say there weren’t a few scary moments during the birthday party. Like the lead photo above. Or this…

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Somebody LOVES him some sleepovers. Bryon always wants to sneak outside Grace’s bedroom window, stick this face against the glass and scare the crap out of them but I won’t let him. Maybe when they are teenagers. Or have already watched Salem’s Lot which is the very reason I can’t sleep with the blinds open.

As a former teacher, I know that free time is your enemy with a room or a houseful of kids, so I planned some activities.

I bought shirts for them all and they decorated them with Sharpies. This is a cool activity Grace learned at summer camp and we’ve used it several times since.

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They had some very creative results!

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I also bought little pumpkins and they each carved one.

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It was messy but they had fun. Grace’s molded in two days.

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Gotta love a vampire pumpkin.

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Of course they stayed up ridiculously late. They also slept upstairs in the playroom for the first time. Did I mention the playroom is DIRECTLY over our bedroom? Yeah, we heard every thump, bump and giggle. Which were many.

Nine is a pretty good age.

Grace got this chair and a few other things. IMG_4486 (768x1024)


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My hens are old and lazy. I’ve been getting one egg a day until recently. Now I get NO eggs a day. In August we tried incubating some eggs and ONE hatched out. You can read that post and see the chick’s birth here.

Then I bought it some friends. That post is here.

A few weeks ago, Bryon and Grace gathered up the new chicks for me and tossed them in with the old to get acquainted. They still aren’t exactly friends, but we haven’t lost any of them. I left them cooped up together for the first three days. The first night after it got dark, I went to count and make sure they were all back in the coop together.

Yep, twelve chickens. Just like I had hoped.

I shut the coop door and said goodnight.

About an hour later, Bryon hollered from the bathroom that I had a chicken squawking outside the window.

Erm, not I didn’t. I cooped them all up.

I went outside to investigate. Nothing. No squawking. No chicken.

I went back to the coop and counted again. Yep, twelve chickens, just like I… wait a minute. Where’s the little Buff Orphington? The one chick we HATCHED? Not there.

I have thirteen chickens.

We all three looked with flashlights for the little buff but no luck. I hoped it had roosted in a tree somewhere and would make it through the night, because there was nothing else to do. I wasn’t going to leave the coop door open for it and leave all of the rest of them in danger.

The next morning, the buff was trying to get into the old coop and was very happy to join it’s friends.

They’ve all made it back into the coop every night since.

I guess we both learned a lesson that night.


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Grace has become quite the little basketball player. A couple of the Niangua dads have been coaching them now for two years and their little team has really improved.

They even have REAL uniforms now which makes them much more intimidating than they really are.

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We told Grace we’d pay her a buck a basket. This last session of six week ball we paid out a total of five bucks. I know it will get more and more expensive but it seems to be a good motivator. I was never very good at sports. I’m glad she is and is interested. The good thing about playing sports in a small-town school is if you are on the team you WILL get to play. Every game.

We have a break until January (a short basketball camp in a couple of weeks) then it’s back at it.


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For Halloween this year we went on a Haunted Float with our friends Lynsey & Brayden. It was the first year for the canoe rental place to host the float so it had a bit to be desired. The Type A part of me had an entire list of suggested improvements for them but I resisted. Not. My. Baby.

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I had to repeat that to myself a few times.

On actual Halloween we all three dressed up and hit the good churches and neighborhoods. I made an unfortunate shoe choice so I waited in the car most of the night until it was time to go eat Chinese food.

Still, I looked good. We all did.

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IMG_4415 (1024x1024)Grace and I participated in the Niangua Red Run. I walked. Still I totally beat Grace and the chick with the stroller so WIN! Bryon had to work or he would have been there too. The run was a fundraiser for playground equipment. One boy in Grace’s class one the whole thing! He’s smokin’ fast!

We are NOT smokin’ fast. Or at least I am not smokin’ fast.

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This may be why.

Thoughts On Bees & Bears

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Life around the Big Cedars gets interesting sometimes.

Like last week, when our neighbors told us about multiple sightings of a black bear near our house. A very skinny black bear.

We live off the beaten path and our house sits in the woods about a half mile from the main road, hidden by trees. One of my goals for setting down permanent roots was to live in a place where I couldn’t see a mercury light at night in any direction.

Mission accomplished.

Of course this means we are in the middle of critter habitat as well, and you never know what might wander by. We have had deer, turkeys, bobcats, raccoons, armadillos and other various and sundry visitors.

We have not seen the bear ourselves.

But it did prompt me to recover the honey my bee minion have been producing all summer. If anyone is going to be the recipient of that liquid gold it’s going to be ME…not some random bear no matter how skinny or not skinny he may be.

Bears are not common this far north in Missouri, but sightings have been growing.

After their reports, I decided to take action and pulled off the super of honey.

IMG_4116 (1024x768)It’s a slow, sticky process. I wear a bee suit, gloves and screened headnet. Luckily I didn’t get stung this time. The trickiest part is getting all the bees off of the frames before bringing them into the house to cut out and stick in my homemade honey extracting bucket.

I have to brush bees off the frames several times on the trip from the hive to my front porch.

IMG_4113 (768x1024)By some miracle only one bee made it inside the house.

I’ll probably get around  2 1/2 gallons of honey from the one super I pulled off. The rest I left for the bees for winter. Hopefully the bear won’t find the hive. He’ll tear it to shreds if he does.

My beekeeping philosophy the past three years has been To Bee or Not To Bee. A survival of the fittest approach as I have done absolutely nothing for them except trim the weeds in front of the hive. This has been my third successful season for honey using this philosophy and so has cost me on average $30 a year instead of the $100 a year it had previously.

Beekeeping is not a money making venture in the Big Cedars.

But it is sweet when it’s successful.

The End of Summer – Kayaks, Camping & Coasters.


A couple of weekends ago we went on what will likely be the last camping trip of summer. We visited Table Rock Lake and the new Old 86 Campground with our friends The Thiessens.

An island across the way caught our little friend Cale’s eye and we all decided to venture out to it. It was the farthest Cale had ever paddled and he did a great job.


It was maybe a mile away but across the open water of the lake. We stayed in a tight little group to try to be as visible as possible to the big cruisers and pleasure crafts.

IMG_4010It really didn’t take all that long to make it across but the kids especially had a great sense of accomplishment when we reached the shore. We weren’t exactly stranded, but we did find a beach ball (shades of Castaway?) caught in some trees during the high water of the previous weeks.


We all explored a bit. Some more than others.

IMG_4011Claimed our stake then headed back.

IMG_4007The next day was filled with do-over rides at Silver Dollar City since Grace and I got rained out the Monday before. She wasn’t ready to leave, but had fun with Cale. The grownups watched from the sidelines while they took the plunge. We did get to ride Outlaw Run again.

Best. Roller. Coaster. Ever.



Not a bad way to end the summer.

Sometimes It Really Is Your First Rodeo

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After ten years of living fifteen minutes from Marshfield, we finally went to the Forth of July rodeo this year.

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Most years we end up at the lake to watch the Dam Fireworks at Pomme de Terre, but this year we decided to stay home. They have a great fireworks display each year during the rodeo intermission and we’ve caught it more than once just driving by at the right time. It was so much better from the stands.

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We had great seats and really enjoyed the show. We’ve been to a few other rodeos out west through the years but this one was just as fun.

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Earlier in the day we attended the historic Marshfield Fourth of July Parade. We’ve watched it two years and been in it once now. The bad part of being IN the parade is that you don’t get to SEE the parade.

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All I saw was the bottom of a cooler full of quickly melting ice pops.

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By the end of the parade we were just handing out Koolaid pops.

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The church vacation bible school float was a rock ‘n roll theme, in case you missed that.

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Rock on.