Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Dave's office

Sign outside Dave's office

Darling thank-you card made by Pat.

Photo inside journal made by Pat.

Sweet Aurelia!

Aw! Isn't she cute?! (Aurelia, that is.)

Lovely tulips given to me by my boss, LaVonne, for Administrative Assistants' Day
These past few days have been very busy, indeed. Here's a little bit of what I have been up to:
  • Saturday: choir rehearsal in the morning. After our rehearsal, my friend, Pat, gave me an adorable Thank You card to include with the prayer shawl I knit to give to my host family while in Ukraine. She actually knit the little piece using toothpicks on which she had glued beads for the ends to make them look authentic! Inside she included a hand-crocheted book mark. She also made a journal from a little notebook she found at a local store for each woman going on the trip. The outside of the journal is pattern that looks Russian, and is in the colors of the Ukrainian flag - blue and yellow. Inside the cover she glued a photo of one of the churches in Ukraine. Pat is an amazingly talented gal!
  • Saturday, continued: I had lunch with Peder, Sarah and Aurelia, and got to see Aurelia crawl and walk with our assistance. She is so cute. Her smile is infectious, don't you think?!
  • Sunday: I sang for two church services, had a little snack with some friends, shopped for a few more things for the trip, decorated a co-worker's office for his birthday. Dave is a great guy. When his father died a couple of years ago, he inherited a summer home in Arizona. But Dave wasn't allowed to use the pool until he reached 55 years of age. Well, yesterday he turned that magic number so we went with a "pool" theme. I picked up the giant size swim trunks and kid's towel at a local thrift store. My boss, Paul, lettered the pool sign for me. I capped off Sunday by attending a concert by the Gustavus Adolphus College choir. It was so beautiful.
  • Monday: I worked my heart out for 8 hours and then went to tutor Rosy for my final night this season. At the end of our session, she hugged me real tight and we each said, I love you. She told me her mother said to say, "Good Luck" to me for my trip. I'll see all of them on May 31 when I return to their home to tutor Rosy's mother and grandmother. They are so sweet.
  • Tuesday: The first thing I did this morning was bake a blueberry pie for Dave's little birthday party this afternoon at our break time. Oh, did my house smell good!

That brings me up to date. I still have things to cross off my list, but the list is getting shorter.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One Week to Go

We had another choir rehearsal this morning. We rehearsed most of our numbers and a guest from Russia and our missions pastor spoke to our group. We ate little open-faced sandwiches called kanapis (Ukrainian) made by two of our choir members. And another choir member made each of the women on the tour a beautiful journal with a cover that looks like typical Ukrainian artwork. We were given our airline tickets and had our concert wear approved by our director. It was a busy, productive morning.

I got to have lunch with Peder, Sarah and Aurelia. I'm telling you, little Aurelia is so sweet. She has a smile that is just beautiful. All the while we ate, she played with her little toys and watched people. Following lunch, we drove to their home and I got to see her crawl. She also walks by holding onto our hands. Again, she smiled and smiled. Oh, and she said "uh, uh, uh." It's darling. Peder and Sarah are doing a very good job with their parenting.

It's so rewarding seeing your kids grow up and raise a family. Hans and Peder, I'm so proud of both of you and your wives. You've given me beautiful grandchildren. What a treasure. Heidi and Chad, when you have children, I'm sure you will be equally good parents.

I'm nearly ready to start packing things into my bags.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

News of the Day

There isn't much news from me today. We're getting rain and tonight it may be mixed with the "S" word. Yuck! Spring is really holding back from arriving in Minnesota. A few leaves are starting to open on the trees in my back yard. The grass has more green blades than brown.

I've been crossing more things off my list for our mission trip. We leave in 10 days! I have things in a couple of piles waiting to be packed. We'll have two more rehearsals before departing. The choir members who have elected to stay home have divided up the names of those going and are committing to pray for us. That really means a lot. If you care to pray, please ask God to protect us as we travel; keep us healthy; help our music to touch the hearts of those who come to listen; may we make new friends.

If you came here today wanting to read news, I suggest you go here. Rachel has posted new photos of Josiah and Annika from their outing to the zoo yesterday. Be sure to read the entry under the photos, too. Rachel is a gifted writer, and she captures their outing like no other mother could. I was laughing out loud as I read it. I only hope Peder is doing as well with Aurelia today at the Mall of America.

Meanwhile, Heidi has her hands full, dog-sitting their friend's black lab. Brian isn't too happy about it. I hope it has stopped raining and snowing out in Seattle so they can all go to the dog park.

(Note: click any of the underlined words to read the respective blog.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another 10 Minute Weekend Is Nearly Over

Why do our weekends go so fast???? It seems we leave the office on Friday at 5 pm, and 10 minutes later -- it's 8 am on Monday. Maybe it doesn't work that way for you, but quite often it does for me. Here's a recap of my weekend:
  • Friday night I was blessed to attend a tribute dinner for the father of one of my co-workers. Her father had been the music pastor at a twin cities church for 23 years. The dinner event was attended by 400 people. On the program were church members from the past who had starred in the many productions written by Ken. Some of the guests flew in from far away places and were surprise soloists for the evening. Clips were shown of some of the shows performed over the years. All of the music presented had been written by him. Though I have never met Ken, I was touched by the songs he wrote and the tributes given to him. It was a beautiful affair.
  • Saturday I gave Peppi a clean cage and then got up my nerve to reach in and grab him to clip his nails. This should be done to canaries about every six months. He flapped and flitted and finally I was able to contain him in my hand. His little heart was beating so fast. I clipped about 4 long nails, and then returned him to his cage. Thankfully I didn't hurt him and won't have to repeat it for another half year or so. After doing some other domestic tasks, I got ready to go to church for the annual choir festival our church hosts each year. This year, four choirs joined ours for a total of approximately 350 voices. Rachel's parents, bless their hearts, drove all the way from St. James to come to listen to us. I got to visit with them before and after the festival. The music was so inspirational. It makes me think of what heaven will be like.
  • This morning I sang in two services at our church and then went to brunch with my theater friends. This afternoon we saw Pajama Game at the Bloomington Civic Theater. Once again, the acting and music was sensational. And now, I'm relaxing for the last minute or so. It's been a packed weekend, but I loved it. I hope you had a good one.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Recycling Crayons

Heidi has inspired me to become more "green." It started when she gave me the green cloth bags for groceries, etc. I now have 5 such bags which I keep in my car and do my best to take them with me when I go shopping. Another way I have gone "green" is by using a washable plate, glass and real silverware at work. (This has always been my practice at home.) In fact, our vice president was at the same table as I was yesterday for our special Friday morning snack. I looked around and noticed everyone sitting at our table was eating their coffee cake from a Styrofoam plate and was using a plastic fork. 4 out of 6 of us were using washable, china cups; the other 2 were drinking from Styrofoam. I decided to ask him if he thought our office could try to be a little more earth friendly by purchasing dishwasher safe plates and bowls and stainless tableware to cut down on all of the plastic and Styrofoam we toss into the garbage everyday. We already have a cupboard full of dishwasher safe mugs. He pleased me by saying we will be doing this soon.

So, what about the title of this entry: recycling crayons? Well, just this morning a program on TV mentioned this: crayons are actually a fuel product (I had forgotten this), and old crayons simply do not "go away" when tossed into the garbage. Here is a web site for disposing of them. It's one more way we can help save our earth. What new ways are you trying?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Equake Shakes Central Illinois Today

Yes, that's right. Around 4:45 am today, residents in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Ohio felt the earth shake. It was a quake that measured 5.2 points on the Richter Scale. The epicenter was in southern Illinois near Mt. Carmel.

I know that is unusual, but I recall it happening when Steve and I lived in Lincoln, Illinois, in the fall of 1968. It was a Saturday morning and I was standing at the kitchen sink, which was filled with soapy water. My hands had been out of the water for well over a minute, when all of a sudden, the bubbles began to move like waves. Weird! Later that day we learned we had had a small earthquake.

This morning I phoned my Aunt Ginny to see if they felt it in Indiana. She said she was actually at her computer and felt the chair move. She thought the cat had bumped it. After hearing the news, she realized she had indeed felt it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Horton Hears a Who

On Saturday I took Rosy to the movie Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who. It was an adorable movie, rated G. Rosy was all dressed up: skirt, white blouse, black boots, and a beautiful red coat with a black velvet collar (Yes, we're still wearing coats and mittens here.) We got pop corn and orange soda pop at the theater; I had a couple of bags of M & M's in my purse since I didn't want to pay $4 for them at the theater. What a rip-off the concessions are! Anyway, back to the movie. Horton is played by the voice of Jim Carrey, Carol Burnett's voice is used for the kangaroo (sorry, I can't recall her name in the movie). She plays the part of the negative, crabby animal in the jungle. She has a little kangaroo in her pouch that she says she is "home schooling." At one point, she tell the little kangaroo to "go to your room!" I thought it was hilarious. The voice of the mayor of "Who'sville" is done by Steve Carell.

There's light-heartedness, drama, suspense, and a very happy ending. I would love to take Josiah to see it in a few weeks if it's playing in Germany. I think he would really like it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Winter That Will Not End ~ Spring That Will Not Begin

Batten down the hatches -- here we go again! We are under another winter storm warning: rain mixed with snow beginning late this afternoon and continuing tomorrow with accumulations of up to eight inches possible. Winds may be from 30 to 45 mph. Won't this be fun?! NOT! I have no extra curricular activities planned until Saturday afternoon, so other that getting to and from work, I'll just have to grin and bear it. I hope it's nicer where you are.

To feast my eyes on something other than brown grass and dirty piles of ice and snow, I treated myself to some fresh daffodils yesterday. Aren't they lovely?

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Family Time in Rochester

After leaving Rosy's house Saturday, I drove to Rochester to join Peder, Sarah and Aurelia at Janet and Jerry's. We had a good time together, in spite of Aurelia not feeling well. Even though she had a cold and hadn't been sleeping well, she still flashed her beautiful smile. Plus, she was standing! She pulls herself up by holding onto things, such as her diaper bag.

It was good spending time with my family again. We talked about our upcoming cruise to Alaska over a delicious dinner of steak, baked potatoes, salad, and a delicious Red Velvet cake.

Sunday morning we went to church and got to hear the choir in which Jerry is now a member. It was very nice.

Following the church service we went to see my little friend, Cassie. The last time I went to visit her, she was sound asleep and we couldn't wake her. But today she was wide awake, and most of important of all, she recognized me! I was so happy to see her smile again. She seemed to understand what I was saying. And when we left, we waved at her through her window, and she waved back. This is amazing, as she has Alzheimer's Disease. Cassie will turn 95 in July.

Tutoring Adults in English 101

Saturday afternoon was my first session of tutoring Rosy's mother and grandmother. I arrived at their home and Rosy welcomed me and helped me set up my supplies in the family dining room. She was so cute as she sharpened the new pencils. I started out by asking Maria (Rosy's grandmother) and Maricruz (Rosy's mother) to tell me the English words they already knew, with Rosy and her teen-age aunt, Carolina, acting as my translators. Actually they are familiar with quite a few. Then we moved on to a work sheet with small phrases such as:

Excuse me.
Good afternoon.
Good evening.
Good morning.
How are you?
I'm sorry.
My name is . . .
Nice to meet you.
You're welcome.
Who's calling?

We worked on their practical uses and practiced some dialogues. They did very well. And they thought it was fun when I would say to them in Spanish, "Muy bien!" (Translation: Great! or Very good!)

We worked for about an hour and a half and broke to have a little snack. Maria and Maricruz are very enthusiastic and looking forward to our next lesson. Oh, and they told me they plan to practice the things we went over and asked me to give them a quiz when I return. I don't recall ever asking my teachers to prepare a quiz for me!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dare I Get My Hopes Up?

As I walked to my garage this morning, I may have experienced the entry of Spring in my neighborhood. To my surprise, I heard a robin sing. I looked up to see if I could spot him, and there he was, high at the top of the tree across the street, happy as could be. Of course, I greeted him and welcomed him back to Minnesota. I asked him if he had had a good winter. He didn't answer, but he didn't fly away either. (This photo was taken from the Internet. We do not have any leaves yet.)

I just checked the weather for the temperature and learned is currently 47 degrees, but is supposed to rise to 52. Whoo Hoo! The sky is blue, and more snow is melting. This is so encouraging, since we have had a winter that hasn't wanted to end. Even now there is S*N*O*W in the forecast for this coming Sunday, but I'm trying to ignore it.

A month from tomorrow our choir leaves for the mission trip to Ukraine and Austria. We have had two rehearsals and the music is going to be very exciting. I have been asked to have my faith story prepared and be willing to share it at one of the concerts. This is uncharted territory for me, but I agreed to do it. I have written my first draft and one of my editor friends at work has agreed to help me with it. One of the pastors at my church will also be helping. My understanding is that an interpreter will be standing next to me when I present it. This may be helpful, as I imagine the pauses would give me a chance to catch my breath and regain my composure, if necessary. I'm trusting the Lord to help me with this venture. Please keep me in your prayers for this part of the journey, as well as the preparation and flights. I will post more about what to expect on our trip in a future entry.