Sunday, November 25, 2007

And Now They're Gone - On Their Way East

Supper time

"Apple," said Annika.

"Bunny!" "Squirrel," said Annika.

It was hard work for Josiah and Grandma to put together this puzzle!

Decorating Grandma D's Christmas tree.

My angels.

Breakfast time.

Coloring an ornament.

Greeting Peppi.

Decorating cut-out sugar cookies.

Enjoying a cookie. :-)

Water table at the Children's Museum.

Isn't she darling?!

Isn't he handsome?!

Playtime in the play clinic at the museum.

Since Tuesday when Hans and Rachel, Josiah and Annika arrived, I have seen them as much as possible. Yesterday Rachel brought Josiah and Annika to my home to spend the next 24 or so hours. I have been looking forward to this. Josiah has stayed overnight at my home once before, but this was the first time for both of them.

I had a numbers puzzle ready for Josiah and dolls and a stuffed cow for Annika. They got to meet Peppi, my beautiful canary, and he put on a very sweet concert for them! After the children played for awhile, I got out some Christmas tree decorations and together they decorated my small Christmas tree. It was so much fun watching them. Annika (1 - 3/4 years old) basically took the ornaments and pushed them into the tree branches. Josiah (3 - 1/2 years old) carefully hung them with their fine threads. They did a beautiful job! When they finished, I plugged it in and they were happy with the results. Then I read them a little Christmas story about Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. I was glad I had found a cloth nativity set last week and let the children put them next to the cloth barn with animals that I already had. Josiah wanted to call Mary's husband, "Josiah," but I told him he could just call him "Joe." Annika loves the animals and knows the sounds they make.

Josiah and Annika were very good at my house! They loved playing in my cottage - Annika taking the fake apples out of basket and telling me what they were. Josiah and I put a Tyrannosaurus Rex puzzle together - it wasn't an easy puzzle! They took a bubble bath and shortly after went to bed. I couldn't have asked for better grand children!

This morning while Annika napped, Josiah colored a couple of wooden ornaments and helped me decorate some cut-out sugar cookies. I knew Hans would appreciate those!

Around noon, Rachel came to pick up Josiah, Annika and me and together we went to the Children's Museum in downtown St. Paul. (Hans was at Peder's watching the Vikings beat the Giants!) This was a lot of fun - for the kids and me. These children's' museums are wonderful places. I enjoyed it a lot.

The bittersweet moment came after we picked up Hans at Peder's and drove back to my home. I hate good-byes (I know I'm not alone in this department). Hans came into the house with me and we packed up some sugar cookies for him and his family. I showed him the tree the darlings had decorated and walked him back out to the van, gave him a hug, kissed the angels, gave my love to Rachel, and watched them pull away.

Dear Lord, please go with them and protect them.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Josiah and Annika

Josiah and Annika are in Minnesota (with their parents, of course) for a short visit before moving to Germany. I'm enjoying every time I have gotten to see them!

Yesterday Rachel brought them out to my office. Before they arrived, I brought Snowball, our big office cat, to my cubicle, and placed Cow in our upstairs loft. These were promotional props for a couple of the children's books previously published by our company. As soon as Annika came up the stairway, she noticed Cow and ran over to him to give him a big hug. As you can see, Cow is BIG, but that didn't stop Annika and Josiah from trying to carry him around. They played with Snowball too. It was so cute.

People in my department came to my office to see the kids and commented on how much they have grown and changed since September 2006 - the last time they came to visit. Our office has such a family atmosphere. Everyone looks forward to kids and grand kids paying a visit.

After getting out of work, I drove downtown to join Rachel and the kids and together we went to Macy's 8th floor Christmas show. This year they're featuring The Nutcracker. Josiah was so intrigued that he wanted to get up on the little stages and interact with the movable characters. He noticed everything - even when the music started over from the beginning. Annika enjoyed it too. At the conclusion, we got into the queue to see Santa. To our amazement - there was no one else in line. As soon as Josiah saw Santa sitting on his throne, he ran up to him - arms out-stretched. He told Santa about his trains. We aren't sure if he asked for anything, but we got a darling photo of Josiah with Santa. We picked the best time to go to this event as most people were probably traveling or home preparing their Thanksgiving dinner.

Today I drove to Rochester to have Thanksgiving with Janet, Jerry, Lynn and her family, and Keith and Alex. We had a delicious dinner and a good visit. Hans, Rachel, Josiah and Annika also stopped by. Once again, it was lots of fun seeing them. The little ones liked Janet's fall decorations, and were very impressed when she brought out an American Girl Bitty Baby with lots of clothes and pretend food. At one point, Annika took off her shoes and tried to put on one of the doll's shoes. It was hilarious!

I'm getting some good photos of them. These will have to last me until Rachel starts posting more on her blog. I know it has been tiring for Hans and Rachel to go from house to house to see the relatives, but we sure appreciate it! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Happy Thanksgiving!

I am rich and have so much for which to be thankful. I will not attempt to itemize all of my blessings, but want to list a few:

  • Living in a free land where I can worship God without fear.
  • My kids and their spouses.
  • My grand kids - 3 this year!!!
  • My extended family.
  • My friends.
  • My health.
  • My job.
May you have a wonderful day. Try to take a few moments to tell God, "Thank You."

[Calligraphy of Psalm 100 was done by my boss, Paul.]

Happy Birthday!

Peder, Hans, Aurelia



Annika, yours truly, Aurelia, Josiah

This is the first time for me to be with all three grandchildren!

Sarah, Barb (her mom), Aurelia

Last evening was so much fun! For starters, it was Sarah's birthday. Happy Birthday, Sarah! Our family gathered at T G I Fridays for dinner. Among the guests were Hans, Rachel, Josiah and Annika. They have come to Minnesota for several reasons: birthday celebrations, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and farewell as they will be moving to Germany on December 3rd, for a stay of three years. It was so much fun to see them again, and it was the first time for Hans to meet his niece, Aurelia.

Peder's birthday is today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PEDER! Yesterday he and Sarah were both 33. Today Peder turned 34. Enjoy your special day today, Peder!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Special Holiday Tea

Friday evening some of my family and friends joined me at a special tea at the church where I am tutoring. This is the 3rd year that I have been fortunate to get tickets for this event. [Check out my November 19 and 21, 2006 entries to see photos and read an account of the tea last year.] When I invited my friends to come, I tried to describe the gala affair, but I could not do it justice. You see, there were 73 tables (one was decorated by the custodial staff of the church - not with fine china), each one decorated with the personal china, crystal, linens, flowers, and candles of its hostess. If you know me at all, you know how much I appreciate various china and pottery patterns! All of them were beautiful! One of my friends made the comment that this large tea room would take Martha Stewart's breath away.

The tea itself was delicious, and the program that followed was delightful. We sang a few carols, heard 3 sets of sisters tell their memories of growing up together, and listened to the guest speaker tell about how she tried so hard to make Christmas special to her family, but often her efforts fell flat. She has a gift for sharing the real meaning of Christmas.

It was a very pleasant evening. I hope all of my female readers have the opportunity to attend an event such as this. It's a nice start to the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Newest Temptation

Last week a friend of mine brought me a treat, the McGriddle from McDonald's. BIG MISTAKE! I found it to be absolutely delicious! So much so that I can't stop salivating for another. Yesterday I purposely drove past my local McDonald's so I could satisfy my hunger.

Here's what it is: the bottom layer is a small maple-flavored pancake, the size of a hamburger patty. Emblazoned on the pancake is the symbol of the golden arches. Next is a sausage patty - delicious, not spicy hot. On top of that is scrambled egg - maybe one, maybe two. I'm not sure. Topping that is cheese. The final layer is another maple-flavored pancake with the darling golden arches. Currently they are on sale for 2/$3.33. What a deal! You buy two and give one to a friend.

Yesterday I told my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Allan about them. They may try them on Saturday morning. I wonder if they'll get hooked too!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans' Day

Today I celebrate all who have served or are presently serving in the military. For my family, that includes my brother, Jerry, retired US Navy; my Uncle Allan, US Navy; cousin Wayne (deceased), US Navy; son-in-law Chad, US Air Force; nephew Keith, US Navy; cousin Pudge (Pat's husband), US Air Force; cousin Charlie (Kari's husband), retired US Air Force; Pete, Rachel's father, US Air Force; Ken, Sarah's father, US Air Force; Sarah's brother Ryan, US Coast Guard, and of course, my son Hans, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy. Am I proud? You bet I am! There isn't a day goes by that I don't think about them, especially Hans, as I have a photo of him in military dress both at home on my refrigerator and on my office wall.

My brother left for the Navy the day after I turned 18. I was shocked when he announced he was going as I had never heard him mention his desire to do so. I sure missed him through the years and looked forward to the times he would come "home" on leave. While he was in Viet Nam, he wrote to us whenever he got the chance. I saved some of his letters. Here's one:

4 July, 1966

Dear Donna & Steve,

Hope this finds you both well as I know it finds you busy. Enjoyed your last letter very much. Thanks for the pictures, they're just as I wanted.

Hope you made it to Ginny's okay. I've been thinking of you all day.

How was the family reunion? I'd have liked to have been there -- maybe next time.

Yesterday afternoon I went down to the Air Force chapel with a few fellas from here for a special service. Afterwards we had a steak fry. It was sure great.

Have been real busy here at C-med.

Well this is short but can't think of much to write about, guess I'm too tired.

Love, Jerry

Included in the envelope is a photo
taken by Jerry of four ships a little ways from the rocky shores. It is labeled "U. S. Navy off coast of B-med (Chu Lai)"

I treasure this letter and other letters from Jerry and the ones I kept from Hans.

This morning while singing in the choir at church, I noticed a man wearing a sailor suit in the congregation. There was an empty aisle seat next to him and his wife, so when the choir concluded our singing, I made my way to sit next to them. Following the service, I told him Happy Veterans' Day, shook his hand, and asked him on which ships he had served. He told me he was a yeoman on the USS Montpelier, USS Mount Vernon, and USS Macleish - all during WWII. Several people in the congregation came up to him to thank him for his service to our country. To that I say, "Amen."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hans Is Graduating Today with a Master's Degree

Photo is from Yokosuka, Japan, aboard the USS Lassen (taken in 2006). Hans is the one holding the sword.

Lieutenant Commander Hans De For, my first born, is graduating today with a Master's Degree from the Naval War College. I'm so very proud of him. You can read Rachel's account here. Hats off to Hans. I salute you!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Family Get-Together

Little Princess
Aunt Liz (Great-great to Relia) and Relia in conversation
Sarah, Aurelia, Peder
Surprise Birthday Cake Dessert for November birthdays
This was one busy, but fun, weekend for me. Saturday I hosted a dinner for my Minnesota family - well most of them. Pat, Pudge, Aunt Liz, Janet, Jerry, Sarah, Peder and Aurelia all came over. We had a very nice time of visiting and eating. It as the first time for everyone to see Aurelia, and she made quite a hit (are you surprised?!). She is such a good baby, smiling and looking around. She's strong too! It was so much fun to see her again!
At dessert time we celebrated the November birthdays in our family: Jerry: 16th; Sarah: 20th; and Peder: 21st.
Peder and Sarah returned the cradle on loan to them from Pat & Pudge. Aurelia was the 15th little one to use it. Josiah was #14. Hans -#4; Peder -#5; and Heidi -#7. Each of their names has been written on the bottom of the cradle, so it has become a nice piece of family history.
Sunday I sang in the choir for two services, went out to lunch with friends, and then the friends and I went to the Bloomington Civic Theatre. We saw Urinetown, the Musical. The title is awful, and the story was mediocre, but the singing, dancing, costumes, orchestra and sets were wonderful. In February we will see The Fantasticks. In April we will see The Pajama Game. It's a fun time for us!
Thankfully we gained an hour this weekend or otherwise it would have seemed like we had only 10 minutes off from work. This way we had an hour and 10 minutes ~ or so it seems.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Beautiful Autumn

We have been blessed with a beautiful autumn here in Minnesota. It's one of my favorite times of the year ~ spring being the other. While the color in my immediate area wasn't that spectacular, in my driving around the cities and up north, I saw lots of beautiful fall foliage. My geraniums and impatiens are still in bloom, but I think they will be having their last nice weekend as the forecast for next week calls for temperatures dropping to the 20's at night.

I've spent this past week swapping out my summer wardrobe for my winter. This is always a huge task, one that I put off as long as I can. But as of last night, it is finished, so I don't have that nagging me any more.

I'm still enjoying my beautiful canary, Peppi. He sings so lovely. It's very cheerful, and he is good company for me.

Tomorrow I'll be entertaining Peder, Sarah, Aurelia, Janet, Jerry, Aunt Liz and Cousin Pat for dinner. I'm really looking forward to our getting together.

In a couple of weeks, Hans, Rachel, Josiah and Annika will be coming to Minnesota for a visit before they move to Germany. I'm really looking forward to that. Hans is graduating with his Master's Degree from the Naval War College next week. I am SO proud of him!