Thursday, January 31, 2008

Rosy's Birthday Celebration

Rosy, her mom, sister Katie

Tonight I went to Rosy's home with a birthday cake to celebrate with her and her family. I did not know they were planning on having dinner with me. But when I arrived, Rosy's aunt was cooking chicken and I noticed a salad on the counter. Rosy took my coat and asked me to come into the dining room.

Dinner was good, but spicy. I didn't want to hurt their feelings, so I partook. I managed to eat it. The chicken was good, but there was something in the salad that really had a bite. It could have been chopped jalepeno peppers; I'm not sure.

After dinner, Rosy put the candles on her cake and I lit them. All of us sang Happy Birthday to her, in English. She and her little one year old sister, Katie, blew out the candles. Much of the family's conversation is in Spanish. Thankfully Rosy and her aunt are able to translate for me. I have to say that her family is very nice. They are trying very hard to learn English.

One part of the gifts I gave Rosy were three books. She really liked them and started reading one of them to me. She does a great job at reading, sounding out the hard words. For the most part, she has good comprehension.

During our visit, I asked Rosy what she wants to be when she grows up. "A Teacher?" I asked. To which she replied, "a doctor." Oh, how I would love to help her wish come true. I asked her aunt to tell her mother what a good helper she is at One-by-One, and her mother replied (through her cousin), "she has a big heart." Each time I have been with Rosy and her family, I come away feeling blessed.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rosy's Birthday

Peter, asleep and dreaming of the white sheet filled with animals of all kinds.

Mindy, One-by-One leader; Cornelius

An angel, a guard, other helpers

Thursday will be Rosy's 7th birthday, so we celebrated a little bit early tonight at One by One with cupcakes and a little gift. She is so sweet, and appreciates everything. After doing her homework (math), she read me a darling story, If a Mouse Wants a Cookie . . . . I love the little books she brings. It's delightful to hear her read. Tonight she suggested I visit her school someday. I'll look into it as I think it would be lots of fun.

Later in the evening, during Bible Club, some of the students donned costumes and helped with a drama of the story of Peter witnessing to Cornelius, shown in photo above.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

More Family Fun

Emily and Pat

Diane, Dave, and their children

The cousins and Aunt Liz

Today my cousins Diane and Dave had my brother, sister, Aunt Liz, Cousin Pat, Cousin Linda and I over for dinner. Their three kids and spouses came too - well, Josh isn't married, but his girlfriend, Allie, was there. Part of the excitement was in seeing their daughter, Emily, who is expecting their first baby in June. It's going to be a fun summer for Diane and Dave - grandparents for the first time.

Diane and Dave moved here from the Philadelphia area this fall after living out there for the past 24+ years. This afternoon we got to see the progress on the new house they're having built here. It is going to be a beautiful house and it sits on an incredible lot - a pond and woods in their backyard. The fun part was seeing their kids enjoying the new adventure their parents are having.

Our family always has the best time when we are together. What a blessing.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Very Fun Afternoon with My Cousins

Linda and Diane

Beautiful stenciled ceilings in the capitol building

Yours truly pretending to sit on the ice throne.


Emerald City

Dave, Diane, Linda

The meeting time was 2 pm; the place was the Minnesota State Capitol. That appointment wouldn't be difficult to keep if everyone lived close by and was familiar to the area, but that wasn't the case. Diane and Dave just moved here this fall from the Philadelphia area. They are living north of Minneapolis, so they had a little bit of a drive. And Linda came all the way from Chicago. She left home pretty early this morning, but drove through hazardous winter weather road conditions in central Wisconsin, and was actually delayed when passing by a horrible multiple vehicle crash with fatalities. All that being said, we all arrived in the parking lot in front of the beautiful capitol building within 10 minutes of each other, and a minute before 2:00, allowing us to take part in the last tour of the day of our state's beautiful capitol building, built in 1905, at the cost of approximately $4,000,000 - just $2,000,000 over budget. I hadn't been in the building for a long time, so I enjoyed it a lot.

One memorable time for me in the capitol was back in the late 60's when the state congress was in session, arguing over the question: should the state impose a sales tax - or not? Steve and I sat up in the house gallery as the big decision was being made. Interesting, very interesting.

After the completion of the tour, we walked to downtown St. Paul to see some of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, walking past the famous Fitzgerald Theater where one can attend the live radio performance of A Prairie Home Companion. Down a few more blocks we came upon the outdoor skating pond next to the Landmark Center. At the time, the Zamboni was making fresh ice on the surface, so we saw no skaters. Across the street at Rice Park, we viewed the ice sculptures - beautiful crystal snow flakes; a mermaid and underwater scene; the Emerald City and the main characters of The Wizard of Oz; a little girl lying on a bed, her tooth by her pillow, 3 tooth fairies around her bed; but our favorite was a scene of two snowmen, roasting hot dogs on an open fire. A sign in front of the display read, "Where's Frank?" And there on the ground, too close to the fire, was a melted snowman - I guess his name was Frank. It was very clever. And remember, these are all carved out of ice. We also walked into the hot dish tent to catch a glimpse of the tater-tot hot dish they were serving. It was crowded, so we didn't stay. Diane asked what the hot dish was made of, as she hasn't had it. I described it, but I'm not sure she was impressed. I'll have to have her over for dinner sometime and serve it. After all, it is a Minnesota staple. ;-)

After walking back up the hill to our cars parked at the capitol, we drove to the Grand Avenue area and ate a delicious supper at Cafe Latte. Everyone liked it, so I'm sure we'll go back there again. Yes, we had cake - German Chocolate. It was SO good!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

7th Anniversary

Today marked my 7th anniversary at my current job. It hardly seems possible - - the time has really flown. Many things have happened in those 7 years - big things. All three of my kids have married. Two have given me grand-children; the third - a grand-dog. I've traveled to Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Seattle, Washington; Newport, Rhode Island; San Diego, California; and Yokosuka, Japan - oh, I almost forgot, and Minneapolis and St. Paul, to visit them. All of that has been so much fun.

Things at work changed too. After working there a year and a half, our owners announced they were going to sell us, or at least part of us. Now that was scary. Thankfully, it had a good outcome and we were purchased by a company that has treated us very well. I'm so glad, because I work at a really great place. The people are like family. I feel blessed.

So tonight after dinner I opened my mail. In one of the envelopes was a bill for my cell phone. You'll never guess what is printed on the top line. . .

"Hello! It's your anniversary! You have been our valued customer for 7 years. Thank you."

Eeeek, a mouse!

It's very cold outside here again today: minus 4 degrees (actual); minus 19 wind-chill. I'm handling that okay, but my next bit of information is another matter. In fact, it gives me the creeps! As I was driving away from my garage this morning, a mouse appeared on the outside of my windshield, just above the windshield wiper. Yikes! That really gave me chills. It was an adult-sized critter, not a baby - - I'm not sure what difference that makes, just trying to keep to the facts. My drive to work is short - - only one mile, exactly. When I pulled into a parking spot at my office, I left my car running and got out, long-handled ice scraper in hand, and began poking around the windshield area, hoping to scare the monster away. But he was nowhere to be found. My guess is that he has an opening to the warm area under the hood and has taken up lodging there.

My imagination can get the better of me. I'm now trying to figure out what I will do if he ever gains entrance into the interior of my car and runs up my leg or arm while I'm driving. I guess I will have to call the VW dealership and make an appointment to have the area under my hood cleaned out and a "No Vacancy" sign installed!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

It's the title to an old song, but it's also a true statement. When I awoke this morning, it was minus 14 degrees with a wind-chill factor of minus 31. It's warmed up to minus 3. The high tomorrow is supposed to be zero. They're forecasting this same type weather for us for the next five or six days.
What does one do about it? Well, one could stay indoors until it warms up, or cover up the extremities and buck up.

Last night I was invited to an Anne of Green Gables party at the home of my co-worker, Jenny and her sister, Jill. Two other friends were also invited. Jenny and Jill had a delicious smorgasbord for our supper, and while eating, we watched the entire 199 minute movie. This is one of my favorites (yes, I have many, many favorite films), so of course I enjoyed it immensely. The other guests had never seen it, so it was fun to watch their reactions during Anne's dramatic scenes. If you haven't seen this film, I would certainly recommend it. When it was time to go home, I was happy to stand in their living room and start my car -- thanks to the remote car starter I got for Christmas a year ago from Heidi and Chad. It's part of my survival kit!!


This morning I got to babysit Aurelia for the first time. What a sweetheart she is!! She was so good. We sat a little ways from Peppi and he sang us a little concert. She looked all around. We listened to some children's songs on my piano, played with a stuffed cow that plays Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. And then I rocked her in my Amish rocking chair as she drifted off for a little nap. She slept on my bed for about half an hour, and then we played with some toys until Peder came to get her. It was really an enjoyable time. I hope she liked it enough to want to come back often.


Also today I talked to Hans, Rachel, Josiah and Annika. They are all doing well. Josiah and Annika really like preschool. Josiah's teacher is Mr. David. Mr. David is very impressed that Josiah (3 1/2) already knows his alphabet and can spell some words. Annika (not yet two) visited Josiah's classroom on Thursday. While there, Mr. David heard her reciting the alphabet too. He was so surprised. Today they both spoke to me, Josiah told me his teacher's name. Annika said "danke" (German for thank-you), broccoli, and bye-bye. This was so much fun!

Hans told me that the power supply for his Wii arrived and fixed the problem. You see, when they got to Germany, they stayed in a hotel for the first few weeks until permanent housing became available on the base. Well, not thinking, Hans plugged their newly purchased Wii unit into the hotel outlet and the 220 voltage burned out the power supply. It was a few days before Christmas, and he was unable to get a replacement part, either locally or on the Internet. I happened to be talking to him when he told me about it. He sounded so down. I asked him if he wanted me to try to get one for him state-side and ship it to him, and that sounded good. Long story short - the units are too new for the power supply to be sold separately in stores yet, so Best Buy gave me a Nintendo 800 number to call. On the 23rd of December, I phoned the number and a nice gentleman answered. I explained the situation, and he asked me to hold while he did some checking. When he came back on the line, he asked for Hans' shipping address. I was ready to give him my credit card number, when he told me there would be no charge. I asked him if he was sure, and this was his reply, "We've got to do something good for our guys in the service as a thanks for what they're doing for us. Tell him 'Merry Christmas.'" That was a very nice gesture from Nintendo.


Next Heidi called. She and Brian were on a long walk. She told me what they have been doing and that Chad is starting his training on the long stair climb. He'll be running up the stairway at her tower later today - many times over. [Heidi, help me out here, how many flights is the stairway? When is the big climb? Is it a fund-raiser?]

I so enjoy these visits with my kids. Though 2 out of the 3 live far, far away, it makes them seem so close. Thank you for your calls and for making this cold, cold winter day so cheery.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Closing Quotes

Some of my friends include a quote at the end of each email they send. When Nora writes, her signature closing is this: May those that love us, love us. And to those who don't, may God turn their hearts, and if he can't turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so that we will know them by their limping. She says it's an Irish proverb. It always cracks me up!

Yesterday Shannon closed her email with this: "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." Will Rogers.

Today I received this one from my friend Jo: "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'" She credited Erma Bombeck.

I've been trying to think of something creative, but so far all I can think of is this: It makes me giggle; it makes me laugh to think you want my autograph. This is actually the ditty I used to write in friends' autograph books in the "olden days." I mentioned this at break today with the gals with whom I play cards. None of them had even heard of an autograph book. I'm feeling soooo old! Then I told them my sister often writes this: If God had a refrigerator, your photo would be on it.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

An Enjoyable Time with My Granddaughter

Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with Sarah and my granddaughter, Aurelia. I hadn't seen her since Christmas Day and was getting lonely for her. She was a perfect little princess, never making a sound, but smiling pretty at me, her mom, and strangers. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, but Sarah took photos of her today and you can see them here.

I also talked to Heidi and Hans today. (Peder wasn't feeling well, so I didn't get to see or talk to him.) Thanks to all of you for making my day!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Natasha!

A dear friend of mine is one year older today. Happy Birthday, Natasha!

Natasha not only works with me, but she co-chairs the One by One tutoring program of which I am a volunteer. She's fun, intelligent, a good friend, and a committed Christian.

The photo was taken at our lunch bunch outing today.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Back to Tutoring

Tonight our One by One tutoring program resumed from the Christmas break. I was so happy to see Rosy again. She was all smiles and glad to see me too. We gave each other a big hug.

After her Bible workout sheet was completed, we worked on her math homework. She's working on tens and units. Example: 3 tens plus 4 = ? [Answer is 34.] She had a little trouble with this, wanting to add the two numbers like 3 + 4 = 7. So I approached it by holding up all 10 of my fingers - 3 times - while she counted off, "ten, twenty, thirty, plus 4 = 34." I can't remember back to my youth to recall what methods were used to teach me math, but this didn't ring a bell with me. Anyway, after finishing one of the math problems, she jokingly said, "That one almost killed me!"

When she was done with her math assignment, we turned to reading. She got out a little book from school and told me she wanted to read it to me. It was a story set in a Scandinavian country. The main character was named Garth. He had been out hunting when he observed a bunny in danger. He saved the life of the bunny, and immediately the bunny turned into an elf. The elf, in appreciation, granted Garth three wishes. Garth wasted his first wish by telling his wife he was hungry for a big sausage, rather than the soup she had made. Poof! There on his plate appeared a large sausage, so big it hung over the edges of the plate. His wife was disgusted that the first wish was wasted on such a modest wish. So she said something like this, "I wish you had thought this out better. I want to take back that wish." She said this while touching the end of her nose. Poof! The sausage flew from the plate and stuck to the end of her nose! Oh boy, now with only one wish left, Garth had to use the final wish by requesting the sausage be removed from his wife's nose.

All this time, Rosy was reading with animation. Obviously she had read the story before tonight. With each page turn, she would say something like, "Wait 'til you hear what happens next!" She is so cute!!

On the final page, the sausage fell back onto the plate. His wife cut the sausage into little pieces and added it to the pot of soup. It tasted very good.

Rosy is a delightful little girl and I look forward to seeing her every week. She may not need tutoring in her reading skills, but I'm positive she is getting a lot out of the Bible club that is part of the program.

Brunch at Laurey's

I am blessed with so many dear friends. Yesterday my friend Laurey had several choir members over to her home for a delicious brunch. Not only was the food good, but also the conversation. It's fun to be part of this group. I'm blessed.

Those in the photo on the stairs: row 1, left to right: Carin, Debra; row 2, left to right: Barb, Gayle; row 3, left to right: Bonnie, yours truly, and Laurey.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Fifth Anniversary

The following is the account of my son, Peder:

Five years ago, Jan 5 2003, was kind of a big day for me and my family. There had been a big ice storm the day before. My brother, sister-in-law and I were supposed to drive down to my Dad's to finally celebrate Christmas. My brother had just gotten married six weeks earlier and the honeymoon had kind of shifted when we celebrated the holidays. I was driving. The roads seemed fine. We didn't have any trouble with ice. None to speak of. Until we hit a patch that had been shaded by some trees. Well, long story short, my brother wrenched his shoulder, my sister-in-law broke her upper arm and punctured a lung, and I broke my face. Two weeks in the hospital and 10 plus hours of surgery to reshape my skull followed. I'll always have these plates in my skull and 1/5/03 was the last day I could see out of my left eye. As I said - a big day. The first year after had its moments. The first time driving again was interesting. So was the soft food diet while my teeth reset. And waiting for the swelling in my face to drop was incredibly disheartening. But the first year passed and with it a large part of the feeling of the accident being constantly around my shoulders.

The past years have been better. For that I credit the FP Gal (Peder's nickname for Sarah, his wife). She makes me feel wonderful and appreciated. She even thinks I'm beautiful (I know she's delusional, but should I argue with her?). So the five years have passed and the entire thing seems very distant. But I can't just dismiss it. It was still an important day. One of the landmarks of my life, I'm sure. But the important thing is that I'm here for this day. And I'll be here for the next. There's some kind of lesson there. Remember to drive safely. And ice should stay in freezers or in drinks.

I used to think about it everyday but don't anymore. Well, this time of year brings it back, but otherwise it's not a big deal. The simple lesson is that you don't know when your time is up. You shouldn't put things off forever because you don't know when forever is on its way. After the accident I felt bad because I really didn't have a legacy to pass on. The novel writing (Peder wrote a novel this past November) was, in part, a response to that. My daughter, Aurelia, is a bigger response. Not that I had her for legacy reasons or anything like that, but she's definitely a mark on the world. Speaking of children, having one of my own has made me reflect on how awful this must have been for all of the parents involved. What an awful phone call to receive! The news was ultimately good, but I can't imagine the stress of that situation. In some ways, it's easier to be the one in the hospital. Well, everything (and everybody) is fine now. That's the best we can hope for.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Christmas Eve and Saturday Brunch at Gayle's

December is past, but I neglected to post anything about the fun time I had at Gayle's both on Christmas eve and again on the Saturday after Christmas.
For Christmas eve, Gayle invited Laurey, Nancy, and I over to have a little supper following our participation in the Christmas eve services. Each person brought part of the meal. It was nice to relax and enjoy each other's company.
On the 29th, Gayle hosted a delicious brunch - again inviting friends from choir. Once again, it was a very enjoyable time.
I'm very blessed to have such wonderful friends.

New Year's Eve Party

I had a very nice at the New Year's eve party on Monday night. Mary and Jon have a beautiful home and their friends and neighbors were a great mix of people. We ate (Jon did the cooking and is a gourmet cook - the food was unusual and for the most part, delicious), visited, and played the game Taboo, which was new to me. We played the women vs. the men. I dreaded taking a turn, but I did okay.

Around 11:55, the men and children went outside into the cold air and shot off bottle rockets and a large box that contained gorgeous fireworks - the kind one sees on July 4th. I didn't know such a box existed. Apparently one lights the fuse on the box and it shoots them off one at a time. The women watched from the windows as it was really cold outside. I noticed some of their neighbors were also shooting off fireworks.

My friend Laurey and I had ridden together. Since she had to work on New Year's Day, we left around 12:30. The party was really lots of fun.

Happy New Year!