We have a flock of these little mountain bluebirds that land in our yard every other day or so. They are absolutely beautiful; smaller than most bluebirds I have seen, and incredibly hard to capture on camera because they are constantly flitting about.

These little songbirds are such a welcome sign of spring.  I love living in a place where the beauty of God's magnificent creation is so vividly present!


Seven Months

Ellie, baby, today you are seven months old!!  Mommy just cannot believe how big you are getting!

Here are some details about you right now.

  • You have so much fun sitting up and playing with all of your toys.  I love to hear you talk in your own language about everything. 
  • You give Mommy the biggest smile when we say "Amen" after praying and thanking Jesus for your food. 
  • You absolutely adore anything soft and cuddly!  You will bury your little face in it and get so excited it makes Mama laugh. 
  • You love your daddy so much!  You get so happy to see him when he gets home from work, and you reach out both of your arms asking him to hold you.

  • Your hair is turning lighter, and is growing so long on top that Mommy has to keep a little clip, or ponytails in it to keep it from being in your eyes all the time.  The length on top has minimized all of the curls you used to have...so now your hair just has a little body and movement to it.  {grin}
  • You love to eat your oatmeal every morning, and you despise your fruits.  But, you love your sweet potatoes, and squash, and your green beans (sometimes).  Go figure.
  • You have two darling little teeth front and center on the bottom of your mouth, and have two more on the way down there.  Ouch!
  • You still get Mommy up a few times a night.  We are working on that! (with passion and zeal!)

Ellie, you are Mommy's sweetie pie.  You smile all the time, and you give the absolutely sweetest kisses. Thank you.  I adore the way your face lights up when I come to pick you up out of your bed in the morning, or get you out of the car when we are out and about!  You fill my life with sunshine!




We had a sleepover at Grandma's house on Tuesday night!  Oh the fun! Notice Ellie even has her bunny slippers on!

There was a reason for this last minute sleepover.  That being we (okay, Dad and Hubby) are starting work on the upstairs!  Everybody shout for joy with me!!  That's it...thank you!

Not sure how many of you know this, but when Jay and I got married, the entire first floor of our home was completely finished, but we left the upstairs completely unfinished knowing that we could get to it as time and money allowed.  Well....along came Ellie. Need I say more? {grin} She has been sweet enough to sleep in her bed in our living room for the past 4 months or so. However, as she is getting older, I am getting more and more eager for her to have her very own room upstairs. So, the project has officially begun!

But, I digress...Ah, yes, the reason for the aforesaid sleepover.  Well, the boys are working on re-locating one of the bathrooms upstairs per my request.  (Are they not the sweetest?!! Moving this bathroom over a few feet will add some more space to our master bedroom, and I get to re-arrange the bathroom to my satisfaction.  Nice.)  The PVC glue has to dry for 24 hours or so...meaning that the water in the entire house would need to be shut off for that specified amount of time.  Needless to say, Ellie and I quickly packed up and headed over to the land of many waters....aka Grandma's house.

We ate...

Read some books...


and played some more...

We had a wonderful time. We always do.  Thank you, Mama for having us.

Other exciting news:  The boys have also been working quite diligently outside too.  They have tilled my entire backyard and most of the front yard in preparation for--get this--OUR LAWN!! Yes, we have not had any grass whatsoever around here.  Just dirt. With some sunshine and water, though, we may have some green grass very soon.  Hubby has all of the seed sitting upstairs.  Let me tell you, it is a lot of grass seed.

Other not-so-exciting news:  I should have said WAY not-so-exciting news.  My vehicle's transmission is out of commission.  {sad}  I cannot go in reverse at all.  Definitely makes for interesting driving, and even more interesting parking.  So, if you see a lady trying to push her car backward...well, that's me...PLEASE HELP!!



The Choice

It looks as though Steve's girls know their father.  His choice was the goat cheese ravioli with chocolate sauce and strawberries.  Did he like it?  He says "It was interesting."



Easter 2011

We spent Easter Sunday with my in-laws this year.  Here is a picture of the entire group of us right before our pretty lunch.

from left to right:  Anna, Paige and Josh Maltby, Emily, Tracy, Katie, Jay Sr., Hubby, Your's Truly, and Ellie girl

It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day!  A day that matched our hearts' rejoicing in Christ's resurrection. What a happy day it was all around!  I so enjoyed singing the Easter hymns in church that morning...one of my true favorites is "Christ the Lord is Risen Today!" Brings a smile to my face.

P.s. Ellie says "thank-you" to her Grandma Franks for her pretty dress and hairclip!

We also took a few family photos outside since it was such delightful weather.

Again, I have not edited any of these pictures. The color of the sky was just amazing!  To hear the birds singing and to feel the warmth of the sun's rays soaking into my skin was incredibly lovely, relaxing, and peaceful.

Ellie and I sat on a blanket playing with toys and watching the rest of the group play volleyball. We were especially interested in watching Daddy play.  {grin}

Thank you, Jay and Tracy for having us over.  We had a wonderful time with you all.  And thank you, Lord for blessing us with such a BEAUTIFUL day in which to celebrate your amazing sacrifice, glorious resurrection, and the gift of eternal life; which you wish to bestow upon us...if only we believe that you died on the cross for our sins, were buried, and on the third day you rose again from the dead...conquering death once and for all...FOR US!!!  Thank you, Jesus!

I pray that you have accepted His wondrous gift, and are experiencing a life of joy like no other as a result.

Well, I have other bits of news to share, but they will have to wait for another day as I feel I cannot top the excitement and importance of the sentences above.  Happy day to you!


Steve and I celebrated our 24th anniversary last month.  Rachel gave us a gift certificate for a restaurant here in Kalispell.  Steve and I walked to North Bay Grille today to enjoy our anniversary lunch. 

 Steve enjoyed a Calzone

I enjoyed a fish sandwich.

It was a nice walk (we had a few raindrops hit us and it was windy) and we had a very pleasant lunch together.  Thank you, Rachel for giving us such a thoughtful gift.

Oh, and they gave us a complimentary dessert.  I couldn't eat any more (I had to bring half my sandwich home) and so Steve got to choose.  His choices:

Cheesecake with fruit topping
Creme Brulee
Goat cheese stuffed raviolis with chocolate sauce and Strawberries
Chocolate Brownie and Ice Cream

Which did he choose?

On our walk home, we got a call from the building department saying our plans were approved and we could stop by to pick up our garage permit.  We walked there and got our permit.  Steve really has his work cut out for him now! 

Cast your vote on Steve's choice of dessert in the comments if you would like.  I will reveal his choice tomorrow.



Sick . . .

 . . .  but trying to get better for . . .


Easter Wishes

Greetings to you all!

We just wanted to stop by and wish you dear friends a very Happy Easter! 

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22,23

It is my prayer that the GLORY of Easter will fill your heart with JOY!

How grateful we are for the cross, and Christ's amazing sacrifice!  We are His treasure..."His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God created beforehand that we would walk in them."  We are loved indeed.  Thank you Jesus.

"He was wounded for OUR transgressions; He was crushed for OUR iniquities.  The chastisement of OUR peace was upon Him, AND WITH HIS STRIPES WE ARE HEALED."
Isaiah 53:5

Hallelujah, what a Savior!!

as a side note:  I have yet to edit any of my pictures.  These are the real deal.  My little baby's eyes are really this blue.  {grin}  and she is very excited to celebrate her VERY FIRST EASTER!!!  What fun we shall have!  I cannot wait until she can understand more of what I tell her about our Jesus.  But, the time is flying fast enough...I try to just enjoy each and every second.


Preparations for Easter

We're going to have a small Easter celebration here.   My sister and I have invited our great-grandmother (Ellie's great-great-grandmother) to Easter brunch following our outdoor service in the morning.

Grandma and Ellie back at Thanksgiving

I'm hoping for good weather to order to

1.  Wear our Easter best without being cold.
2.  Be able to enjoy brunch outdoors in our backyard.
3.  Truly feel like celebrating Easter.   Jesus rose . . . shouldn't the day be sunny and bright?

Anyway, as a gift to my Mom (and Dad - but it's mostly for an early Mother's Day gift), I decided to green up our lawn in time for Easter.   As you all know original plans called for them to be home on Easter and I figured that if they were home, we would have a celebration outside.

During dethatching process

Well, maybe it's better that they haven't come home yet, because the lawn is not quite green yet.  For awhile, I was afraid I had only made it worse, but it is slowly turning green again.  I'll get an updated picture soon, maybe just before Sunday.

Thatch -  dead grass and roots that stifle the air and nutrients from the soil

Today, I have a rare day without work and I'm pulling everything together for Easter brunch.   Grilled pineapple ham steak, mashed potatos, sourdough rolls, and fresh fruit are on the menu.  Unfortunately, I'm nursing a bit of a cold, but I think that will be gone by the time I have to prepare food on Sunday.  For now, I'm just making sure I have everything I need.

One thing that was not in my power to control is our beautiful tree in the backyard.   It has fully leafed now and I just love it.

Green, green, green!  I did trim away the dead branches that had gotten caught when we had two winter storms.

Well, I'd better be off and running; happy Easter to all!


Not Quite Yet

Look what we woke up to this morning.  These pictures were taken a little after 7:00 a.m.  It is just gorgeous.  I am very much enjoying it. 

I am happy to report that Steve and I have decided to extend our stay.  Ashley and Rachel will simply have more bonding time.  I can feel their excitement now!

 Ashley, this would be your view this morning if you woke up here

view from our bedroom window

Steve is busy drawing plans for our garage.  Yesterday he put up some gutters.  There is water in our basement.  Not a good thing.  It IS a good thing that he is so multi-talented. 

Quick little side note.  Have you ever used skype?  We have enjoyed using it to stay in touch with Kacey while in San Diego.  However, Sunday we used it in a way we have never used it before.  The brake pads on the Jetta needed changing.  Rachel, was up for the challenge.  With Steve in Kalispell guiding her over skype, she was able to get the job done!  Who would have thought?!?



It Is Almost Time

Today is Friday.  We have three more full days here before we drive toward San Diego. 

 Where exactly is home?

Is it here in Kalispell?  The pillow on our living room couch says it is home.  Is San Diego home?  That is where we will be in a few days. . . reunited once again with Ashley and Rachel.

But, heading toward Ashley and Rachel means leaving behind this:

Isn't it great to know that "this earth is not my home.  I'm just a passing through."   The book of Hebrews tells us that "they desire a better country, that is an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He hath prepared for them a city."

And so "with the gaze of eternity"  in our eyes, we shall leave lovely Kalispell for lovely San Diego on Tuesday.



No, not the curly kind you find on a farm.  Ellie's first pigtails!  Observe:

Are these not the cutest!  Makes her look so grown up, don't you think?

Other news of importance: 
  • Ellie has two teeth now!  She has about four more on the way too.  That is a lot for such a little person to handle all at once, let me tell you.  (this is also the explanation for the extra wet stuff on her face...that, and a runny nose from her cold.  Poor dear.)
  • She is now eating all sorts of things.  She has had rice cereal, oatmeal, pears, bananas, green beans, and sweet potatoes.  She is a big fan of her vegetables.  They seem to be her favorite for now.  Ellie also loves to drink water from a big girl cup.  {grin}  She gets so excited about it!
  • Last, but not least, she is enjoying sitting and playing now.  So fun!
What a big girl you are getting to be, little missie!  Your Mama loves you so very much!

We are getting excited because Daddy is due to be home sometime late late tonight or early tomorrow morning!  We miss him exceedingly when he is gone.  Hurry home, Daddy!


One Spring Day

Ellie and I have been staying in town with my parents this week since Hubby is gone, and staying home alone has never been my favorite activity.

Guess who came by for a visit this afternoon? Chaz and Terrie Yandall!

Chaz Yandall, Dad, Terrie Yandall (back)
Your's Truly, Mom, and Ellie (front) 

we were so surprised to hear they were in town!

Many of you will remember the missions trip that Dad and I took to the Philippines three years ago, well, these are the missionaries that we went to serve alongside. We have known their family for many years, and have formed a sweet friendship.

I so enjoyed that trip to the Philippines. It was such a blessing to be involved in their ministry for 4 short weeks. I wanted to stay. They offered to give me an internship of sorts for a year stint. I brought that letter home with me, and my parents and I prayed much over it. What a hard decision it was, but my parents felt that it might not be the best timing for something of that nature. I shed tears; it meant that much to me. But, there are few people's advice and wisdom that I respect and desire as much as my parent's.

Needless to say, I didn't go. God had a plan. He ALWAYS has a plan. That same year, I met my husband-to-be, Jay. And the rest was history. {grin} We met for the first time in May of 2008; he stayed at my parents house with his Mom and Grandpa for the next month and a half while his dad was in the ICU at our hospital. We talked, but I don't think either of us was especially interested in the other. He left as soon as his dad was stable enough to fly to a hospital closer to home, and six months later called and asked my dad if he could court me. How romantic! We courted long distance for 4 months before he proposed in July. I said yes, and we were happily married November 14, 2009.

I know that most of you know our story, but I wanted to say all that to draw your attention to the providence of God. Working as a missionary in the Philippines was God's work...it didn't make sense to me that it couldn't be the right thing. I know now that it was a good thing, just not the best at that moment. My best thing was coming, and I might very well have missed him. We would never have met. I would never be here in Montana. I most definitely would not have the sweet daughter that I do now.

God's ultimate desire is that we will choose His best for us. Prayer and godly counsel are the two ways that I find myself able to see His best...and sometimes I have to act blindly, not knowing what will come of it, but knowing by the presence of His peace that I am making the right decision.

Okay, I know I just rambled on and on. I do get going sometimes. {grin}

We had a wonderful time of conversation (and coffee!!) together with the Yandalls. How fun to catch up on all that has changed in each other's lives.

I thank God for great friendships like theirs.

I will leave you with a picture of who else but the little missie...

such a little goofy face! 

Salutations from San Diego

Well, down here the sun is shining, but the big blue house is mostly empty.  As is the refrigerator.

Pretty much just staples in there.   But that didn't pose a problem when crafting a delicious breakfast for me and my sister.

Yum, don't you want some?  What is it you ask?   Hootenannies!  or German pancakes for another name.  It's mostly an egg dish.  For those familiar with my mother's cooking, the texture  of this dish is similar to chile egg puff.  Paired with strawberries and whipped cream, it was a morning delight!  Nutritious and delicious!


Catching up

It has been a crazy week for us up here in Montana.  I find my life always gets a little crazier and a lot more fun when my family is in town...especially my twin.  Love you, Ash!

I was just downloading some pictures from my camera that have been taken this week.  Would you like to see what we have been up to?  Well, let's hope you said yes, because what follows is a glimpse of...well....us!  If you answered no to the question above, please DON'T READ ANY FURTHER.  You know you don't want to...really...you had better stop now.  Well, you can't say I didn't warn you.

first of all...someone is growing up! 

getting some love from Auntie Ashley

We had a fun fun week with my twin.  We celebrated our birthday together, albeit a bit late, and went...

...BOWLING!!!  Oh the fun... 

 dear Hubby showing us how it's done

my COOL twin  {grin}

Ellie helped...

We had a blast spending the day together.  I am so glad I have someone to share my birthday with every year.

Here are a few more pictures from this past week:

this one was taken by Ash 

 this one by Mama

I arrived home the other evening to find this delectable item in a box on my porch!  What a treat!!

just look at this! fudge-like cake... 

ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, this was divine!  so rich and perfect with my cup of freshly brewed coffee.  (yes, I just discovered how to use the self-timer on my camera...and obviously, I need more practice.  ha.)

dear cake-giver,

thank you for making my evening.  my husband enjoyed your surprise as well.  it was so very thoughtful of you.

love, me.

Ellie has just recently started to do something very amusing.  She scrunches up her little nose at you.  Copies anyone who does it to her too...pretty cute if I do say so myself.  {grin}

 yes, this mama is aware that her little missie is missing both her hairclip and a sock

"what was that you were saying, auntie ashley?"

Well, you can now consider yourself fully updated on the current events of the young Rickel household.

Jay just left this morning to go to training in Salt Lake City.  {sad}  We are going to miss him. He will not be back until sometime Saturday.  Daddy, if you are reading this, WE MISS YOU ALREADY!!