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Making the Connection

Tonight, Dave met our new neighbors.  I know this isn’t going to be easy for him.  He has lived in this house since he was about 8 years old and for most of his life, he’s had the same neighbor living next door.

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Remember Tim the “Toolman” Taylor and all his meetings with his neighbor, Wilson at the backyard fence?

They met in our back yard.  Nathan, our new neighbor, introduced himself to Dave, and they began to talk as they watched a pile of brush burning.

“What are the neighbors like around here?” Nathan asked.

Dave was honest.  He told him who would help him out if he needed help and who to avoid.  He shared about who would try to be your best buddy to the point they were a nuisance and also about those that you are lucky if you see their face once a year.

He stood out there in the yard talking to him and getting to know him for quite some time.  It was long enough for the fire to die down to just some glowing embers.

While he was meeting and getting to know the new neighbors, I was busily packing for retreats.  Yes, I said retreats.  I am “retreating” for the next 5 1/2 days.  First, Katie and I will be going to the Mother/Daughter retreat at Joy El Camps and Retreats.  As soon as I’m finished with that retreat and get Katie back home, I’ll be retreating again with my fellow staff members.  I’m looking forward to both retreats.

Katie and I have been going to the Mother/Daughter retreat ever since she was in 2nd grade.  We look forward every year to this time away together where we can be “girls” together.

Staff retreat is different.  We go as a group to another campground and usually have something that we’re working on together…a book, a topic, a plan for the coming year.  Though most of our day is spent working on these things, there are fun moments as well.  We always learn something about each other at these retreats!  Last year, we learned how competitive our Creative Marketing Specialist is, as well as our Director!  We also learned what kind of animal we were…a Lion, a Beaver, an Otter, or a Golden Retriever.  (You can check it out here: Smalley Trent Personality Test).  The year before, it was a game of “Things” that had us in stitches.  We learned “things you should never do on a bus” included: licking the windows, yelling fire, or letting Tanya drive.  We played late into the evening, getting to know one another’s personalities by the answers we gave.

No matter what the retreat, it’s a time to get away and to connect with others, a time to connect with God too.

I packed my bags for both retreats so I’ll be ready to drop one bag off and pick up another on Sunday afternoon.  As I finished, Dave came in the door.  “Met our new neighbors!” he said.

“Really, are they nice?” I asked.

“Yeah, Nathan and Christine seem really nice.  I think we’ll be glad they’re moving in next door. They have chickens!  Christine said she’ll bring you some eggs.”

“Cool! Fresh eggs!  I like her already!  Do they have children?” I wondered.

“Nope, not yet.  They’re quite a bit younger than us, but they seem to have a lot of the same thoughts and ideals we do.  I’ll think we’ll get along just fine.”

Now I’m anxious to connect with the new neighbors too!

Making connections with others is good, but a time of retreat and refreshment is also good.  In Mark 6:31, we read, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Jesus was talking to his disciples here and suggested they get away from the crowds and just have a time of rest.  However, the crowds followed and Jesus ends up performing the miracle of feeding the 5,000!  His “staff retreat” was interrupted, but I don’t think He minded.

Katie and I at last year's Mother/Daughter retreat.

Katie and I at last year’s Mother/Daughter retreat.

I feel pretty certain that I will not have to feed 5,000 people with two fish and five loves of bread at either one of my retreats!  But, I do feel pretty certain that I will connect with my daughter, connect with my cousin and her daughter who are joining us at this retreat, connect with other moms I haven’t seen since the last retreat, and then connect in new ways with my fellow co-workers.

We all need time away where we can disconnect from the ordinary and connect in another way.   I can hardly wait for tomorrow when my retreats begin!

♥Miriam

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With Strings

 

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The other day, I stumbled across an old journal of mine. In this journal, I found stories that I had written about memories from my childhood.  It’s like my blog before there were blogs! These stories were written years ago, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. So, I thought I’d share some with you all…updated, of course, to use more adult language than I used when I wrote these stories. (I figured I wrote most of them when I was about 19!)

I grew up in a little town called Markes, PA. You know these towns. It’s one of those towns that if you blink as you go through, you’ve missed it. The town was big enough to have its own store though, and that is the source of this memory.

Gluck’s Grocery Store was in “down town” Markes. Not only did they sell groceries, but they also sold gas from the one pump they had on the front porch. Being that my grandparents didn’t travel very far, they would often do their grocery shopping here and I’d go along. Selection was limited, but you could get pretty much everything you needed as long as you weren’t particular on the brand name or size of the item.  I remember this place so well, because it was a place that I went to on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis.

As you went up the steps to the entrance, you immediately took notice of the big windows on either side of the door. What treasure troves were in those windows!! My favorite window was the one on the left. It always contained things that interested children. There were barrels full of kites and boxes of little airplane kits to put together. Stacks of coloring books and a basket of balls also graced the window. The other window was not as exciting for a child but excited the adults. Barrels containing new brooms and mops, yard sticks, galvanized buckets, and garden tools filled the window.

As you stepped inside the door, it was like going back in time by today’s standards. I only wish I had a picture of the actual store but  this one I found on the internet comes close to describing how it looked.

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To the left of the entrance was the candy counter. Mrs. Miriam Gluck spent most of her time behind this counter.  I would be given a nickel or dime to spend at the candy counter. There was all sorts of penny candy to choose from! Boxes of gummy fish, licorice whips, sour balls and wax bottles lined the case. There were boxes and boxes of candy bars and Lifesavers, nearly any kind of candy you could think of.  Grandma would always go with me to this counter so she could get her supply of her favorite candy. Mrs. Gluck would scoop pink, white or green Canada mints from jars and put them in a brown paper bag for Grandma. She would mark the price on the bag with a black wax crayon. Grandma also wanted to spend time here for another reason.

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Behind the candy counter, the wall was lined with narrow shelves. On these shelves were tiny shallow boxes filled with sewing notions. All you had to do was tell Mrs. Gluck the color and she would expertly pull the box from the shelf and give you your desired skein of embroidery floss or spool of thread. Other sewing supplies were available. Small boxes of thimbles and needles were on the shelves as well. Grandma sewed a lot, so this was always a stop when we visited the store.

If you went toward the right when you entered the store, you would see the ice cream freezer. Hershey’s confections filled the freezer. You could purchase ice cream by the half-gallon or pint. Pappy would often select several ice cream treats and have Mrs. Gluck’s daughter, Carolyn, fill a bag. Ice cream sandwiches, fudge bars, banjos, and popsicles would fill the bag. Pappy always made sure to get some root beer flavored popsicles (my favorite) and plenty of fudge bars!

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Along the back wall was the meat and cheese counter. What ever you wanted, Carolyn would remove from the case, slice it if need be, and wrap it in brown paper and tie it with string. She too would write the price on the paper with a black wax pencil. Eggs were also kept in this case along with butter quarters.  Near the meat counter was another cooler of soda and a pot-bellied stove with a bench beside it. Here is where the men from Markes would sit and exchange news and gossip. Blair Deaver was a fixture on this bench. He was pretty much always there. Pappy would go to the back of the store to “get the latest” on what was going on in the area and he’d pick up his newspaper while he was there. He’d also eye up the hardware items behind the counter. There were tools, nails, nuts and bolts, and screws for sale all sorted out according to size.

One last stop was the center aisle in the store. This aisle contained bread and rolls, cookies and snack foods. We would take any items we had accumulated up to the counter (it was on top of the ice cream freezer) and Carolyn would check us out. She had an antiquated adding machine that she would add the purchases on. She’d punch in the price of each item and occasionally pull a lever to add the total.

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It was during the check out time that if you needed any “personal” items, you asked for them. I recall several times going with my mother who would ask for feminine napkins. These too were wrapped in brown paper and tied with string so that no one knew what you were purchasing!  Once all your items were bagged, Carolyn would pull the lever on the adding machine to get your final total and you were “checked out.”

We often would get gas before we left. Pappy would pull the car up to the pump and Carolyn would come out to pump the gas. Motor oil was kept in a locked green cabinet on the porch. You’d pay for your gas and you were on your way.

Glucks grocery was a great place to stop in for ice cream or a cold soda on a hot summer day. We would often visit Glucks in the summer to grab some chips and soda to go with hoagies for a quick lunch. I would often leave with candy or a small toy of some sort. My mom and I bought several kites over the years from the barrel in the window.

Slowly, Glucks Grocery began to die. First Miriam Gluck passed away. A lot of the sewing supplies were stopped after that. Keeping up with those and the rest of the store was too much for Carolyn to handle. Then paper routes became popular and people had their paper delivered instead of stopping in to pick one up on their way home. Blair passed away and no one sat on the bench in the back of the store any more. Then the ultimate demise came when Jane’s Market came to Mercersburg. It was a big-sized grocery store and had much more to offer than Gluck’s. Soon, Carolyn stopped selling gas and many other things.

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I hadn’t realized that Glucks was dying. I figured it was doing well still selling candy, ice cream and soda to kids in the neighborhood. I was wrong. I was about 19 years old and was in need of a new ice scraper. I decided I’d stop in and see if Carolyn still had any for sale so I wouldn’t have to go the whole way into town. I was filled with sadness as I walked in the door. Many of the shelves were empty. The adding machine was still there and there was still a fair amount of candy to chose from in the candy counter. The ice cream freezer was still running, but over half of the freezer was filled with Carolyn’s own food supply. The few cans that were still on the shelf were dusty.  The bench and pot-bellied stove in the back of the store was still there but looked as though it hadn’t been used for some time. I knew in a moment there were no ice scrapers there. Carolyn made some chit chat with me and asked about my parents.  She looked sad. I asked her if I could get a candy bar and she opened the case for me one last time. “It’s on me,” she said. I think she was just grateful that someone had stopped in.

A few years later, the store officially closed and Carolyn passed away too. The store still stands, but now it’s someone’s home. The windows are different and no longer filled with a treasure trove of items for sale.

I somehow felt a little resposible for Gluck’s demise. I was now a Jane’s Market customer. But, every time I eat a Canada mint, fly a kite, or eat Hershey’s ice cream from a box, my mind is taken right back to this place that held so many fond childhood memories. There was a lot of love and care wrapped up in those brown paper packages and many memories that I will always have with me.

♥Miriam

Penny in the Porch

I’ve been thinking about my childhood recently and this has brought up quite a few memories of my grandparents and their home. I want to preserve those memories, since my daughter will never be able to experience these things with these people. Sadly, a few years ago, my grandparent’s home (my second home away from home) had to be torn down. The people who bought it after my Pappy died did not care for the house and land like my grandparents did, and the house became unlivable.  But that’s another story.  I’d like to share a mental picture of my grandparent’s home, a place that held many special memories for me.

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The front of my Pappy’s house had a porch that went nearly the full length of the house. There was nothing fancy about it. It was a concrete porch, very narrow in width on one end and nearly a foot high on the other end, but it was level!  A dilapidated wooden door was near the “deep” end that led to the hand dug earth cellar. In the narrow end, near the corner that ran nearly flush with the sidewalk, was a penny in the porch. The penny caught my attention at a young age, and I wondered why anyone would put a penny in the cement. “That’s the year the cement was poured,” my grandma would tell me.  I can’t remember for sure, but I think it was a  1952 penny. It wasn’t shiny anymore and had some green on it where the copper had oxidized.  Every now and then, I’d check to see that it was still there.

Grandma would keep her houseplants out on the porch in late spring and summer. They would flourish there. Everyone who would drive by (the road was just mere feet from the porch) could see them in their lush greenness and full bloom beauty. Redwood furniture with stainless steel trim sat on the porch and hosted a bevy of guests on a regular basis. As soon as it was warm enough, we’d spend nearly every evening out on the porch.

I spent nearly every day at my grandparent’s house. They were my babysitters since my parents each worked the 3-11 shift. I remember Grandma and Pappy’s house almost better than I can remember my own home. I just loved it there! Being that I was there so much, I soon started to accumulate toys and things there that I could play with. Near the end of the porch with the cellar doors was one of my favorite play areas. Pappy had helped me set up an outdoor “play kitchen” there. You had to use your imagination (which I had a lot of!) but there were two concrete blocks and a few bricks fashioned into a “stove.” Grandma had given me an old sauce pan that got scorched one evening and could never get clean. I had a dull table knife, an old spoon, a tin pie pan, and an empty plastic butter tub. These were treasured items to me! I spent hours “cooking” at my stove. I’d go into the yard, pull up handfuls of grass, pick dandelions, and find other little earthy treasures to make salads and casseroles that I’d “serve” to Grandma and Pappy with great delight. They graciously would pretend to eat the meal I had made and ask me to go make something else. I’d get creative and grind things between the bricks like a mortar and pestal, chop things with the dull knife and make garnishes with little flowers that bloomed wild around the yard.

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One of my best memories was the nights we would sit on the porch together and watch it rain. Even during thunderstorms, we’d sit out there and watch it rain. At some point during the storm, there would be a deep stream form along the road in front of the house. Pappy and I would remove our shoes, go running out and play in the stream, wading up and down in front of the house. This was fine with Grandma, unless it was still thundering and lightening! Then she would be chiding us to “get in before you get electrocuted!” We’d be soaked until we decided to stop, but neither one of us wanted to quit! Grandma would shake her head and fuss that we were wet, but Pappy would gently remind her, “Edna, you’re only young once! Let her enjoy it!”

The year I was 10 years old, my Pappy began to have stroke after stroke. Before long, he was bedfast. There was no more sitting on the porch in the evenings. Then I found myself going out there just to think about what was going to happen. There was talk that Pappy was dying, but in my young mind, I couldn’t fathom that would ever happen. Who would wade in the stream with me? Who would I pal around with. Who would be my best friend if he was gone? The porch had become a place for me to go in solitude to cry and contemplate the future.

Pappy died that summer. Grandma came to live with us for part of a year and with my uncle for part of a year. Things were packed to sell or move. The house was emptied room by room. I was having a hard time letting go of the house and the memories there. It was more pain than my 10 year old heart could take.

On our last trip to the house to make sure we had gotten everything out, the penny on the porch caught my eye. I went down to that end of the porch and rubbed the penny with my finger. I looked around and no one was there, so I began to pick at the penny. I dug and dug until my fingernails broke, but I got the penny out of the porch. I held it in my hand until we got home and then I put it in a safe place. No one knew for a long time, but I would get the penny out and hold it and think about the times on the porch with my Pappy. It helped me remember him.

I still have that penny. It means a lot to me, but it will never bring him back to me.

But, that penny does give me hope. It reminds me that though I still miss my grandfather 35 years later, I know that one day I will see him again. I dream about him occassionally…they are some of my best dreams! It’s not just in my dreams that I will see him though. I know I will see him in heaven one day.

Revelation 21:4-7 tells us this… ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.  He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.  Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.”  This excites me! Not only will God take away the pain of death and the sadness we feel when we lose someone, wiping the tears from our eyes, he will make everything new! I’ll get to see my Pappy whole again! And, if I drink from the water of eternal life (Jesus), I will be there in heaven with him! We will both be children in God’s house! How exciting!

When that day comes, I will no longer need the penny from the porch to remind me of happy days in my childhood. My Pappy and I can be together again as brothers and sisters. What a day that will be!

♥Miriam

Tea, Friends, & Family

Higinbotham's Tea Room, New Oxford, PA

Higinbotham’s Tea Room, New Oxford, PA

If you know me at all, you know how I love to go to tea! Recently, while traveling to Adams County, PA for work, I ran across a tea room I had never seen before in New Oxford, PA….Higinbotham’s Tea Room and Bed & Breakfast. When I arrived home, I quickly contacted my tea-loving friend, Tammy (we’ve been friends since 7th grade!) and we made arrangements to go to tea and check it out! We planned to meet my cousin Marcia there, but plans change, and Marcia had to cancel out. It all worked out well though. I took Katie in Marcia’s place, as Katie loves going to tea too!

Higinbotham’s proved to be a little different from other tea rooms we had visited. We enjoyed ourselves though, nonetheless! After all, having tea together is more about cultivating friendships than it is drinking tea and eating little sandwiches. We caught up on each other’s lives, since Tammy and I don’t see each other often. Katie threw in her two cents every now and then. Mrs. Higinbotham kept fussing over Katie and raving how well she was behaving and eating all her food. Mr. Higinbotham was there as well and kept our water glasses filled.

Tea was lovely, and we were quite satisfied and full. The next step in our day out was a stop at my cousin Marcia’s. Her sister (my cousin) Sharon and her children were here for a visit (hence, why Marcia cancelled out). I got to meet two tiny cousins that I had never met before. Katie was excited to see her cousin Caleb, who was only 2 weeks old the last time we saw him. He’s 6 years old now!

As it usually is with good friends and family, we picked up right where we left off from the last time we were together. Within minutes, it was as if we never had been apart. Sharon shared with me that Caleb had a special spot in his heart for Katie. Ever since he was a toddler, he’s had Katie’s picture on his bedroom wall. When Caleb walked in the room, Sharon said, “Look who’s here, Caleb!”

Quietly, he says, “It’s Katie!” and off they went to play. For a change, Katie was the oldest cousin in the room instead of the youngest. She was thrilled!

Marcia, Sharon, and Tammy and I all visited for a while. All good things, though, must come to an end. We began to say our goodbyes and snapped a few photos.

Cousins together again. Marcia, Sharon, and me.

Cousins together again. Marcia, Sharon, and me.

We went outside to track down the children. We found Katie and Caleb diligently working on a project together. They had gathered various sized rocks from around the yard and from the orchard behind the house and created a “fire ring” in the back yard. They were busily rubbing sticks together, hoping to create a spark. We watched in amusement for a while, and of course, snapped some photos!

The only thing that would have made the day more complete, would have been to have my cousin, Sue there too. It’s hard though once you grow up to have a time where it suits everyone to get together. However, those of us who were able to visit, created new memories together. And for that I wouldn’t trade a thing!

♥Miriam

A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Drive

For Valentine’s Day this year, I gave Dave a jar of “cheap dates”.  I got the idea from Pinterest, and he loved it! In the pint jar, there are over a year’s worth of dates for either the two of us to do together, or for us to do as a family. Last week, we took the first of these dates and went to Rita’s for Italian ice. This week’s date simply said, “Go for a drive.” Dave knew what I meant by that, but Katie didn’t have a clue. They both looked at me a bit sceptical of what was to happen. But I was happy! I knew what this could turn into!

At the end of the driveway, Dave says, “So which way do you want to go?” not sounding at all thrilled.

“Go right. Katie, you get to pick which direction we go at the next stop sign,” I said.

I was excited. Katie had no idea what she was about to experience. I thought back to my childhood days when it was a common occurance to jump in the car on a Sunday afternoon and just drive around and look at scenery and other areas you don’t see every day. My Pappy Wingert was a master at the Sunday drive. We’d jump in the car with him and drive for hours. We’d end up miles from home and get home after dark! But we saw places that were interesting and fun! Those Sunday drives were part of my favorite childhood memories. I only hoped that we would come across something interesting today!

We each took turns at stop signs and stop lights choosing which direction we’d go next. I soon realized that I had an advantage when we reached Cove Gap. “Turn right here!” I yelled.

Dave turned the wheel and we started the beginning of an afternoon long history lesson. We were in Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park.

We learned a few things:  1.  Katie learned that Buchanan was our 15th president, that he was never married, and that the school that Mommy graduated from was named for him. 2. Dave learned that Buchanan attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, that Buchanan’s Birthplace was the first State Park in Pennsylvania, and that the monument was built in 1907. 3. I learned that Harriet Lane, his niece, purchased the land that became the state park and that this really was the area where Buchanan was born, and that James Buchanan’s mother put a bell on him to hear him in the woods around their cabin!

I told Katie that there used to be a sign at the beginning of the trail to the monument that simply said, “Monument”.  I shared with her that my cousins and I once went there for a picnic and decided it would be fun to “be” monuments next to that sign. Well, the sign is gone, but the rock that was there remains. So, Katie decided we should do the same thing. The results are below!

We got back in the car and I whispered to Dave some directions. We were headed to another historical place…Fort Loudon, PA. It was close to supper time, so we stopped for supper at a favorite spot, Milky Way. Mmmmm, was it good!

We finished supper and headed down the road. I was now driving. We drove to the site of Fort Loudon. Katie had no idea about how Fort Loudon got its name or that there was actually a fort there many years ago.

“Mommy, can we go see James Buchanan’s log cabin before we go home?” asked Katie.

“Sure! It’s still daylight!” I said. Then we headed toward Mercersburg Academy. It took me a few minutes to remember what part of the campus the cabin sat on, but we soon found it.

“Cool!” said Katie (and I think she really meant it!).

The sun was setting, and so we decided to head for home.

“This was really fun,” said Katie smiling contentedly. “I hope Daddy pulls this ‘date’ out of the jar again soon.”

Me too, Katie, me too!

♥Miriam

Katie the Bear! (Grrrrrrrrrrrr!)

Here’s another memory I found and it’s a real “Katie classic”! This is one of my all-time favorite “duh moments” she’s ever admitted to! At least this whole incident taught her a lesson…she’s not a bear!  Enjoy…..

Well, my daughter did it again! She never ceases to amaze me!  The other day, when Katie got out of bed, she told me her back was itchy and would I scratch it.  I scratched it and the day moved on.

When I got home from work that evening, Katie once again asked for her back to be scratched.  Thinking nothing of it, I obliged and scratched her back.  She proceeds to tell me that at school that day, her back had itched but her friend, Sushmita, didn’t know how to scratch it like I did and she was glad I was home so her back could be scratched.  I started to wonder why she was so itchy all of a sudden.  I went to the kitchen and made supper, and forgot all about her itchiness.

Then came bath time for Katie.  As she began to climb in the tub I noticed something terrible on her back!  It looked raw, totally brush-burned and scabby!  How could I have not known about this?  Of course, I immediately questioned her–“What happened here?!!!!!”  Katie proceeds to tell me. “Oh, I was really itchy at recess today, and since Sushmita didn’t know how to scratch my back, I used a tree.”

“You what?”

“I used a tree.”

“How?”

“I lifted my shirt, leaned against the tree and started rubbing up and down until it stopped itching.”

“Like a bear?”

“I guess you could say that,” she says.

“Did you ever think this was a stupid idea?” I asked.

“No.”

“Do you have any idea what your back looks like?  Do you realize you could have given yourself splinters?  Do you know you aren’t a bear?” I questioned.

“Yeah, Mommy.  But I don’t itch anymore!”

"Ooooo, a little more to the left!"

“Ooooo, a little more to the left!”

Well, her itchiness had ended after her encounter with the tree, but now it’s back full force since the scabs that formed are starting to come off!  When will she ever use her head?  I guess she was–she was thinking like a bear!  🙂

One of my favorite pics of Katie! She was about 22 months old here.

One of my favorite pics of Katie! She was about 22 months old here.

♥Miriam

Ready for Anything (A memory from 2009) ☺

Here’s another oldie but goodie! ☺

The other week, we had to have our septic tank pumped.  This meant that Dave would need to dig a hole and find the top of the tank so that when the pumper people came, they could do their thing.  Dave went out and started to dig.  Katie announced, “I’m gonna help Daddy!” and out the door she went.

Next thing you know, in comes Dave and he heads for the basement.  He came back up the steps with Katie’s toy garden tools so that she really could help him!

Katie and Dave are out there digging away, when suddenly, Katie makes a beeline for the house.  I didn’t think much of it, just figured she had to go to the bathroom.  She comes flying in the door all out of breath and says to me, “I’ll be right back!  I need to do something!”

As she went down the hall, I hollared out my usual “Don’t forget to flush!”  (Little did I know that she had other things in mind instead of going to the bathroom!)

Next thing you know, here she comes!  She is wearing a play hard hat that she got when she built her own bear at Boyd’s Bear Country, and she is wearing a pair of gloves.  I say, “What are you doing?”

She replies, “If I’m gonna help Daddy, I need to have everything I need.  Now I’m  repaired for anything!” and out the door she goes.

She’s out there digging away in her “workman’s outfit” while I stay inside rolling with laughter over her “repairing” herself for work!  What a kid!

This was taken around the time of this story in 2009. Boy has Katie grown up since then!

This was taken around the time of this story in 2009. Boy has Katie grown up since then!

♥Miriam