Tag Archives: Texas

I love my job!

I’ve been sticking pretty close to the office this month at Rockin’ C Ranch. I helped them catch up with their filing (like since about August!), and then I attempted to clean the different offices. Considering that these offices are located in the barn, you can only imagine what an endless job that is. But I gave it my best shot, and if nothing else, everything looked nice and shiny for a day or two. I even managed to throw out some 2010 Catalogs. Pretty radical, I know. But last week I was asked to actually help with some office work. 🙂 That usually makes me pretty happy anyway, but when they said they were looking for some help with an e-mail marketing blast – then I really knew why we had been led to this camp for our December project! I’ve been using the same program they use for the last 7+ years and while I’m no expert, it was a delight to be able to raise my hand and say “Hey, I can do that!”. Then they taught me how to register campers for New Year’s Eve Camp (what a great idea and much more fun than a babysitter!) and introduced me to “Camp Brain”. As geeky as it sounds, I love learning new computer programs, and it was fun to not only learn how it worked (well, on a limited basis at least), but to then be trusted to actually Do It! All week I have been the “Hello, Rockin’ C Ranch, this is Stephanie, how can I help?” girl  and it’s been fun! The best part is that if they ask a question I don’t know anything about, it’s so easy just ask them to call back after Christmas!  Ah, the sweetness of being a Volunteer!

But wait – it gets even better.  On Tuesday our boss asked me if I would mind taking pictures of their cabins – inside and out.  Really?  You want me to walk around with my camera and take pictures?  If you insist!!!!!

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I love my job!
While my job has been primarily focused around the office and the barn (don’t forget that feeding the barn-kitten job), Gary’s jobs have been all over the place!! I don’t know all that’s he’s accomplished, but I do know he’s worked on bunk beds (and you can see from the cabin shots there are plenty of those), made new lighting fixtures for the bath houses and lavatories, cleaned off roofs and then cleaned off the decks that were covered with the mess from the roof! He’s tightened (or repaired) toilets, repaired electrical fixtures, and made award plaques!
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So it’s been a good month all around! A couple of really fun weekends in Waco, a nice quiet (but productive) weekend at home and great people and fun tasks here at the Ranch. God is so good to us!

I’ve vacuumed and dusted, changed the sheets and washed the towels. I’ve even (finally) hung my Christmas Wallhangings.
Must be time to hit the road!! Early tomorrow we’ll be heading to a lovely campground in Waco where we’ll be spending our Christmas break. In case I don’t get back here before then – may you all have a Blessed Christmas, and may this celebration of the birth of our Savior bring to mind His great sacrifice on our behalf.

PS – If  you would like to see all the Cabin shots (exterior and interior) here’s that set.

If you’d like to see a couple more “project” shots – check ’em out HERE.

And if you wanted to know how the turtles were doing….
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it was another great day on the log!
 

Takin’ care of business

After back-to-back fun filled weekends in Waco with Lara, it was good to spend a nice quiet weekend just hanging around home. Friday was cool and drizzly so we took off to town and did our errand running. Nothing too exciting there (though I did get off my final Christmas boxes! Yippee!!!) – just takin’ care of business. But Saturday dawned crisp and clear and after I spent a little bit of time taking pictures, we got to work with the main chore of the day – replacing the slide topper/awning.
Pictures first, though —–
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Sure was a purty mornin’, doncha think?
This little kitty has become my buddy (one of my Sower jobs is to feed him/her in the morning).
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“Get with it, lady – where’s my breakfast?”
I digress….
On to the awning chore. We’d been nursing this awning along for the last several months (it had started to tear, and was quite temperamental as we would move the slide in and out). This month we finally bit the bullet (Merry Christmas to us!), and ordered a new “topper”.
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See – no awning over the slide. The replacement awning is in that tube on the ground.
This definitely was going to be a two ladder, two person job.
But first, the new brackets.
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And then…
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“Steph? Can you come out here? Time to get up on the ladder…..”
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(Ok, so this is a little posed. But there was no one to actually document the work, since we were both (mostly) working.) We really could have used a third person to be inside working the slide,
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but without too much fanfare, the task was accomplished!
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Good to go!

The day had remained so lovely, that I couldn’t resist a little more camera time down by the lake. This time the turtles sunning themselves caught my eye.
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As I tried to get a little closer, they scattered and disappeared into the lake. I continued across the bridge where I was once again struck with how much East Texas in late December looks like Pennsylvania in October –
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As I was clicking away on the bridge, I noticed the turtles getting brave once again.
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“Come on up, guys, the coast is clear and the sun is fine!”
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Ah, the sunshine was pretty irresistible for lots of creatures that afternoon….
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I won’t bother you with pictures of Gary & I napping. But trust me, it happened!

If you’d like to see additional picture of the ranch, check them out HERE! (Fair warning, I really like that bridge over the lake!)

Back to Back

Where does the week go????!!! Our project is going great, but before the weekend starts, I wanted to share about Last Weekend. We’re doing Back-to-Back Waco Weekends, and I hate to get too far behind! It was a pretty full weekend – with lots of fun stuff going on!
First on the agenda – Building The Ultimate Bed.
Lara has a pretty small bedroom (with the smallest closet in the house), and has spent the last year or so searching for a platform bed with lots of storage underneath so she could get rid of her dresser and maybe even find some extra space in her closet. She finally decided on The Ultimate Bed, with a total of 16 (!) drawers! Six on each size and four small ones running down the middle that you access from the foot of the bed. Quite amazing, really.
There was only one small problem.
It came in 9 boxes with 35 pages of instructions.
Really.
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We got started on Friday night –
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building the drawer units.
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And while it’s true that Gary did the actual “building” (after all, he’s the expert with the power tools), he couldn’t have done it without Lara and I. We kept the screws organized and kept track of the bazillion parts that were needed. And occasionally we were the “could you read those directions again? Do they make sense to you?” helpers. 🙂
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Clementine was a big help too!
After the drawer units came the actual drawers…..
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The sections were joined together and the center drawers were added.
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And finally, the mattress platform was installed.
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And by noon on Saturday –
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Lara had her very own Ultimate Bed!
Just in time for us all to get our rain gear on to go the the Baylor-University of Texas Game!

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We got there early and enjoyed watching the warm up
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and we got to see the Baylor “Line” –
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which is actually anyone (it seems) who has a gold/yellow shirt on running on the field to greet the players as they come out.
There was lots of team spirit
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and it did rain off and on for the entire game
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but in the end, it was a great game!
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And, yes, Baylor WON!
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The Big Event this coming weekend is Lara’s Second Annualish (did not happen last year due to the fact she had no kitchen) Cookie Baking Extravaganza! Definitely seems like a worthwhile reason to hustle back to Waco, doncha think?

Charis Hills

We’re about to wrap up our time at Charis Hills Camp and Retreat Center, our November SOWER Project. And let me tell you, it’s been a great month! (I guess I say that with some frequency, but honestly, they all ARE!). Before I go into more detail about why this was such a special project, let me show you around!
Here’s Gary walking to work that first morning –
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The main building (office and activity/dining room)-
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is where we met Rand and Colleen Southard for our “get acquainted” meeting, and after sharing about the camp and their vision (its main focus is a summer camp for children with learning differences), Rand gave us a little tour of the place.
Here we go!
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One of the cabins (there in the glare!)
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Rand pointing out the area leading up to the waterfront.
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The waterfront –
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Some of the critters –
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More shots of the “Lake Charis” 🙂
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As you can see, it is a beautiful campus. What I don’t have pictures of is the archery range, rifle range, craft/science building, horse arena, etc, etc. It’s not a huge camp – max capacity is about 100 (over-nighters), but it’s got a huge heart! And the kids that come here during the are truly blessed as they experience Christ’s love in a fun and challenging camping experience. I encourage you to check out their website to get a full picture of this amazing camp.
But looking at this from a purely practical, SOWER job point of view – this project was just about perfect!
1. Look at this woodshop –
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Oh yeah, baby – look at those power tools!! And not only were there great tools, but Gary even got to play with them. He made a pattern for birdhouse kits, and then cut out and packaged 75 sets of them.
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Complete with pre-drilled nail holes, nails and the perch. Guess what those kids will be doing next summer?
Then he built 4 bat houses
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two rifle racks
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and two archery holder thing-a-ma-jigs.
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He also built screens
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and completed the “loafing shed” for the horses. Taking it from this-
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to this –
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So pretty much, he got to work with wood in a great wood shop all month. And that is pretty high on his list of fun things to do. But wait – it even gets better! THIS was the true icing on the cake!
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🙂 Oh my, he was one happy camper!
My side of the equation was equally delightful! I started of the month working with Colleen on making curtains for the dining hall.
Before –
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After –
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They certainly aren’t the fanciest curtains around, but it was great fun working with Colleen as we tried to figure out the best way to make them. The fabric was actually upholstery fabric, chosen for it’s sound absorption qualities, so it represented some challenges along the way, but our tools were up to the challenge!
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A total of six pairs of room darkening, sound absorbing curtains – now that’s my idea of fun.
Oh, and my assignment after we finished the curtains? Doing research on the computer. Sigh. Not a toilet to clean the entire month! Darn.

But even above the stuff we did, we loved the people we met –
Rand and Colleen –
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And Marcia, who works in the office –
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We were so very blessed to work here this month. Like I said, a small camp with a big heart. A big heart for kids, and a big heart for Jesus!

But the goodness for my birthday month continues. Tomorrow we head back to Lindale, TX (east of Dallas) and then on Sunday morning we pile in the truck and head to Ohio for Thanksgiving! Lara and Denali will be joining us for the ride, so I’m sure the miles will just fly by! By Thanksgiving day we’ll be holding babies and playing Sorry and catching up with life with the whole Conrad family. Ah, such goodness, such blessing! So much to be thankful for. Our cup is full to overflowing!

The Birthday weekend in Waco

We’re back at work today at Charis Hills Camp, but I wanted to share about our very fun long weekend in Waco. I’ll pretend that we went to Waco to celebrate my birthday, but the reality is, we returned so Gary could finish up that fire pit! So let’s start there –
So this is how things looked when we left back in October –
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By the next weekend, the fire pit kit had been delivered
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but it was still a long way from the backyard – and from actually being usable.
We just let that ol’ fire pit just sit there for a day or so while Gary continued on the prep work and the hearth.
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One of the smartest things he did this weekend was take out a section of the fence in the back so he could drive the truck (and all those pavers and bags of sand/gravel/cement) up close to the deck. Man, those babies are H-e-a-v-y!
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Once he got the three hearth rows down, he tamped them all into submission….
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checked to make sure the opening was a good size for the ring
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he started building up the sides of the pit.
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What I don’t have pictures of is him putting mortar between the blocks in the hearth or how he cinched each level of the fire pit stone to make sure it was perfectly round and good and tight. But here it is – with one happy homeowner waiting patiently for the burn ban to lift!
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And just in case anyone down the road wonders about it –
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It’s signed, sealed and delivered!
But the weekend wasn’t ALL about the fire pit! Lara did have some of her friends over for a little birthday pot-luck for me on Thursday. (Of course, it might have just been a ploy to get those fire-pit pavers to the back of the house….). As often is the case, sometimes the most unusual items become the most interesting of the night. In this case – Lara’s Yarn Swift and Ball Winder….
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Who knew? And it wasn’t even the kids who started wondering what those “things” were for!
Here’s our group picture from the night –
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A fun group – and a fun evening!
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By Saturday the construction project was over and we spent the early part of the day running errands. I know that Gary loved the trip to Lowes (mostly returns!), Tractor Supply and Harbor Freight. But I LOVED our stop at Kohl’s where Lara and I left Gary in the truck to go in and look for a new top for me. It’s my birthday after all! What started out as a simple shopping trip, soon turned into the “reveal” portion of “What Not to Wear”, and I walked out of the store with….drum roll……a new dress, sweater (basic black), dark dress jeans, a classic long black skirt and SIX tops. All for $156.00. Ok, I know that’s probably TMI for some of you – but SOME of you are delighted to hear of our shopping prowess. You know who you are! Lara and I had such fun, and since I can’t think of the last time I had so much fun with my own personal dresser, I had to share!

The weekend ended with a safe trip back to our spot north of Dallas, and we were blessed with this beautiful sky as the day drew to a close.
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Yes, indeed, dear friends, it was a very fine birthday weekend. Calls from the family (even a Skype call from Ohio!), mushy (and silly) cards from my precious sisters, and time spent with Lara and the gang in Waco. Very Very Fine.