Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Long lay the world
in sin and error pining.
Till he appeared
And the soul felt its worth.

Well, instead of including a letter in our Christmas cards, we decided to write to you all on our blog. Our blog is the best way to see what is going on in the life of the Rickstrew family I do hope you'll enjoy reading this post and looking around. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of hot tea, and sit with us a while...

We recently celebrated our one year anniversary since moving to Texas. One year! I saw a bumper sticker yesterday while driving around San Antonio that said, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as soon as I could!” That is just one example of Texas-pride that we see everyday. People here love Texas. They love being Texan. And they can’t ever imagine living anywhere else. And while we miss many things about California, Texas is growing on us, bit by bit. We’re mostly enjoying living on a farm in the country with neighbors that are too far away to see. We all love Tom living and working right here at home. It’s a really busy day when I don’t see him for longer than a two hour stretch. He’s home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and lots in between. The boys really benefit too...having their Papa around all day.

Abram Oak

Abram is our newest addition, just 8 months old yesterday. He’s a complete delight to all who meet him and readily smiles and clicks his heels to show his joy. He’s a really happy baby; taking life in stride. He loves his big brother Riley and always laughs and giggles when Riley is in the room. Riley loves to tickle Abram and blow raspberries on his belly. Abram thinks this is particularly funny. He has mastered sitting on his own and is trying with all of his might to crawl. He rocks back and forth on his hands and knees, but unfortunately only moves backwards when he really wants to move forward! Abram loves bananas, chewing on any toy, going for walks outside, and playing with his Grandpa and Gigi.

Riley Dean

Riley is now 4 years old and REALLY loves our life on the farm. He has just about 200 acres to roam, a creek (filled with all kinds of toads, snakes, bugs, and other creepy crawlers), two ponds (where he fishes regularly), lots to trees to climb, a bike to ride everywhere, and big tractors to ride on. He regularly spends mornings or afternoons with his Papa and Grandpa on the tractors driving through the fields. If he’s not on the tractors or delivering hay with them, he’s in the shop, tinkering on big equipment right alongside them. Riley is still bigger than most people think he should be for a 4 year old. Nowadays people who are just meeting him think he’s about 6 years old. He’s a very tall boy! Riley is a well-mannered, enthusiastic, smiley, pleasant boy who is kind and thoughtful and does an exceptional job sitting still through a 2 1/2 hour church service =) He loves reading books and is quickly learning how to read on his own. He can write his name and anything I spell out for him. He loves listening to stories his Papa tells him, riding his bike really fast off of jumps, reading books, singing songs to the Lord, and working with his Papa.


Most of my days are spent learning and growing in my role as wife and mother and “keeper at home.” I love to cook and bake homemade meals for my family, nourishing them with the fruit of my labor. I can often be found with an apron on, flour in my hair, a little baby spit up on my shoulder, and a smile on my heart as I can’t think of anything in the world I’d rather do than be a wife to my husband and a mother to my two little boys. It was once said that for a mother to take on the job of President of the United States would be a sort of demotion from the much more important role of motherhood, and I cannot agree more. God has given these two children into our care to “train in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” for a short time. It is my prayer that as we raise these boys for His glory that we would show His love to everyone around us, bringing God’s Kingdom here and now. There is no doubt this job is hard. Ah yes, it requires everything. Yet, my sacrifice is so small compared to what God has done for me that I might be in relationship with Him! (It’s the least and the MOST I can do-- all at the same time!)


Tom is a busy man around the farm. Do you ever think you just can’t get everything done around the house? Multiply that by a thousand and you’ll have a farm...where the work is truly never done! He is really enjoying working and living with his father. There aren’t many adult sons that get to live and work with their dad so we are particularly thankful for this. He also finds joy in being a hands-on father who doesn’t have to leave his family and home for extended periods everyday of the week. Life as a hay farmer means he gets to do a variety things like marketing, advertising, managing, plumbing, wiring, irrigating, and mechanics, to driving tractors and delivering/bucking hay. He takes pride in producing high quality gourmet hay that horses just love. He is also studying God’s word and providing vision for our family. One concept he is learning about is multi-generational faithfulness and how to be a visionary leader not just for today and our children but for tomorrow and our grandchildren! He is also very excited to be engaging the international population in San Antonio. We’ve been working with an international organization which focuses their efforts on refugees and immigrants in the States. We’d love to talk with you more about this if you’re interested! Email us or call and we’ll give you more information.

All in all, we are grateful for what the Lord is doing in our lives. We have found a solid church that boldly proclaims the Word of God (something you would think more churches would do- but don’t!) We are growing everyday in our understanding of Him and His work in this world. A local ministry that we’ve really benefitted from this past year is called Vision Forum. They are in San Antonio and produce excellent materials for the family and church. Please visit their website at You’ll no doubt benefit greatly from anything they produce. Our Bibles are getting worn around the edges as we read it as a family morning and evening and our lives are being enriched and fulfilled all the more as we apply His truths to our daily, practical lives. Most people think the Bible is just an old book that doesn’t have anything to say about the issues we face today, but it’s not true. Every question we have can be answered within its pages. Every struggle we have can be solved by its principles. And every relationship in our lives can be improved when we follow its example. Make this next year the year that you read His word consistently, trusting that God’s Word is sufficient for all of life!

The Rickstrew Family

Merry Christmas to you and may you remember when our Savior came into the world to seek and save the lost. Praise Him!

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!

Oh, hear the angel voices!

Oh night, divine!

Oh night when Christ was born.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Found this the other night...

A double rainbow that stretched all the way across. We all stood outside in awe and watched this beautiful reminder that the earth will never flood again.

Look closely (squint your eyes a bit) and you'll see two rainbows there.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Knitting Madness

Finally! I got around to taking a few pictures of Riley's new hat and mittens. I knitted these with 100% merino wool....which is sooo lovely and soft. Apparently, it is machine washable and dry-able too. I knit these in October, when Texas weather was still so warm Riley wore shirts and shorts every day. But, thankfully, the weather has recently turned colder and we're all bundling up before we go outside.

Riley likes to climb these trees in our front yard.

Aren't those lines super cool?

A super cool hat and mittens set for a super cool kid.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fresh Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

How does this...

Become this?...

Get this...

and enjoy artisan bread fresh out of your oven every single night for (I'm not kidding) 5 minutes a day! (if only they would pay me to advertise for them.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Farm Toy

Grandpa and Gigi bought a new farm "toy." It's the new Polaris Ranger. For those of you who have been out here, it's basically the same as our Kubota, but has far better features and offers a smoother ride. (We've tried to see how heavy that accelerator is...but after 58 mph, we're all too scared to try to go any faster.)

Tom installed Abram's car seat in it the other day so that they could all drive out to where a tree had fallen down in a recent storm and take care of it. Tom and his dad worked the chain saw, Riley played with sticks, and Abram stayed in the Ranger, buckled in, kicking his feet, singing away, learning all about how to work and live on a farm.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More Handmade Gifts

Remember during the summer I made a silly little promise for everyone who commented with their birthday date, they'd receive a little som'in' som'in' in the mail? Well, April took me up on it and for her birthday she got two little love birds.

Don't worry Leslie, I haven't forgotten you. You're next!

My sweet little neice, Emma, had a birthday a week ago and after sending her mom this purse, she wanted one too. So, a purse she got! Happy Birthday Emma.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New Quilt

Gigi made this beautiful quilt for Abram and gave it to him yesterday on Thanksgiving.
Thank you Gigi!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fall Knitting and Brothers...

My boys on Thanksgiving

The sweater Abram is wearing is one that I hand knit for him (finished last night!) for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's my first sweater and I should think he looks mighty fine in it =)

Oh! And those adorable Wrangler jeans that Abram is wearing were Tom's when he was a babe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We all have much to be thankful for...

From ours to yours...
Give Thanks to God!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fox's On The Farm

Larry and Brooke Fox graced our farm a few days ago...and it was such a joy to have them.

Brooke and Riley did all kinds of important jobs like mulching the trees, looking for camouflage bugs in trees, and identifying dangerous bugs.

Tom is at the top of this pole fixing a burned out light. Larry is taking a picture. We don't use ladders here, we just hoist ourselves up with front end loaders.

He was a long, long way up there.

Isn't she beautiful?
Naya, our yellow lab, is happy as a clam on our farm. This is the ideal life for her.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Only in Texas... you get stuck driving behind a backhoe down the highway.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Construction Digs

Abram came to the sewing room with me yesterday. He was so irresistibly happy and cute I had to sew him something. (By the way-- he is sitting on his own now!!)

He got a new shirt!
(photos taken on not the greatest, but it gets the job done)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scott's in Texas

A couple of weeks ago the Scott's were in Houston for a Quilt Market and they decided to come over to the Rickstrew Ranch for the day. I borrowed these photos from their can read their stories about their time on the farm here and here.

Bill and Tom

Grandma-for-a-day Brenda and Riley

I love this picture of Riley, Liz, and the tractor that Liz drove around.

Brenda and Liz were quite stunned to learn that a square hay baler is really just a big 'l sewing machine. There's a needle to thread and everything. We all got a slow motion demonstration of how this thing works.

When YOU come to visit, we'll teach ya'll about hayin' too =) Who's next?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Panza's In Texas

Rob and Judy Panza came to South Texas a few weeks ago and stayed on the Rickstrew Ranch. We took them to the Alamo and the River Walk. This is the usual order. If you come to our place, we'll take you there too.

Rob and Riley telling stories.

Judy being a wonderful grandma and reading Riley's books.

Thank you for coming Panza's!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friends from Reno

Lindsey and Anya Bear came out to visit on short notice. Remember that elk hunting trip my man took, which left me alone for 10 days? Well...I wasn't alone too long because my buddy flew out with her daughter to hang with us on the keep us company.

Lindsey telling stories in a hollowed-out tree at an outdoor shopping center.

Lindsey read a lot of stories while she was here...both Riley and Anya enjoy being read to... a lot.

I'm so thankful that she got to meet Baby Abram in person. Being the love that he is, he loved to be in her arms.

Two of my favorite people.

And this cutie-pa-tootie staying warm under hot clothes right out of the dryer.