Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Day

Aurelia likes to build "towers" with the Lego blocks
When looking through these "magic" glasses, Christmas tree lights become stars. Fun!
Special hug for Mom

In the early afternoon on Christmas Day, Peder, Sarah and Aurelia came to my home. I had a turkey dinner prepared, and after eating together, we opened our gifts. Aurelia was our little elf, happy to deliver gifts and fun to watch opening hers. What a difference a year makes at her young age. Peder and Sarah announced to all that their new baby which is due the end of April, will be a boy!

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

The angel choir
Mary, played by Imogene Herdman, and the shepherds
The kings presenting their gift of a ham to baby Jesus

On Christmas Eve, I took in the The Best Christmas Pageant Ever production at some friends' church. It was definitely a highlight for me. I got there early enough to have a great seat; sat with co-workers; and saw one of my choir friends and her family. If you haven't seen this play, movie, or read the book, treat yourself to it. You won't regret it.

After the play, I went to my friend, Nancy's home, for a beautiful Christmas Eve dinner. Her daughter made the entire dinner, which was absolutely delicious! On my way home, the snow, which had started early on in the day, was continuing to come down. We sure had a white Christmas this year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Once again, my kids are scattered around the world on Christmas Day. Hans, Rachel, Josiah, Annika, and baby Will are in Germany; Heidi, Chad, Marshall, and Brian are in Seattle; Peder, Sarah and Aurelia are here in Minnesota. Oh, how nice it would be if we could all be together - maybe next year.

I'm looking forward to Peder and his family coming to my home for Christmas Dinner. Hopefully they'll be able to get through the snow storm we're having.

My mind goes to Mary and Joseph, on that night so long ago. I'm sure they missed being with their family members, too. They had a new baby, their first, and with no phones or computers, they couldn't share their news. I wonder when Mary's mom and dad learned they were grandparents? I wonder how old Jesus was before they got to meet him? How long did they stay at the stable? When did John, Jesus' cousin, get to first play with Jesus? These are things I can only ponder.

I wish my readers a very Merry Christmas. Even though we are not together, you're in my thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent Night

The Real Story Of Silent Night

Many interesting fables abound for the origins of "Silent Night." Most of them are fanciful and untrue. I tend to believe this one:

The Christmas Eve of 1818 was at hand. Pastor Joseph Mohr of St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf decided that he needed a carol for the Christmas Eve service. The little poem he had written two years earlier while serving at the pilgrim church in Mariapfarr just might work. Perhaps this poem could be set to music. He hurried off to see his friend, Franz Xaver Gruber, who was a schoolteacher and also served as the church's organist and choir master. Maybe he could help. He did.

In a few short hours Franz came up with the hauntingly beautiful melody that is so loved and revered to this day. At the request of Joseph, who had a special love for his guitar, Franz composed the music for guitar accompaniment. Just short hours later, Franz stood with his friend the pastor, Joseph, in front of the altar in St. Nicholas church and introduced "Stille Nacht" to the congregation.

Snow - lots of it!

This is what I woke up to this morning. It's pretty - but has a "dark" side.

The path I shoveled from my front door to my garage.

My drive-way after back-breaking shoveling. The snow is heavy - not fluffy.

It easily measures 10 to 12 inches.

The heavy snow started to fall last night during our choir rehearsal. It was a fun sight to see all of my friends brushing off their cars - like a bunch of kids. I followed a snowplow home for part of my journey, so had no problems. During the night we got about 10 to 12 inches at my home. Much to my annoyance, our new "snow removal service" hadn't shown up yet by the time I had to leave for work, so I shoveled my way to my garage and then proceeded to shovel out my entire driveway. This is no easy job for this old woman!

During this strenuous task, a woman across the street from me managed to get her car stuck and asked to use my shovel, so I walked over and loaned it to her (I never thought I would need a shovel once I moved to a condominium association, but one was left in my garage from the prior owners, so I hung on to it. It's been useful from time to time.). Then another neighbor came to her aid with his shovel, and together they got her car out of the deep white stuff.

We have no snow falling at this point, but they are predicting the "big" stuff to start falling later this afternoon. I can hardly wait - - - not.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ladies Night Out

Barb, Sarah and Aurelia

Aurelia with Santa
Yum, yum. I like popovers!
Mailing her letter to Santa

Last night we ladies had a date: Sarah’s mom Barb, Sarah, Aurelia and I. Destination: downtown Dayton’s (Oh, I know, it’s called Macy’s now, but it will always be Dayton’s to me.). We went to the eighth floor display, A Day in the Life of an Elf, and had dinner in the Oak Grill on the Twelfth floor. I sat in the back seat next to Aurelia while in the car. It was so fun to hear her talk while we were downtown. She would point at things and say, “Look at that!” “Pretty lights.” When she saw a bill board of Santa, she said, “There’s Santa Clause, drinking!” She was right - - he was drinking a bottle of Coca Cola. It was so cute.

It was fun watching her look at the figures on display. I’m not sure she knew what to make of it. At one point she tried to climb up to get a closer look, but obeyed Sarah when told to come down. At the conclusion of the elves tour, we stopped in to see Santa. She walked right up to him and agreed to sit on his lap. I have to say that this Santa was sort of a dud. He didn’t laugh or interact with Aurelia at all, except to give her a button with his photo on it. It wasn’t because he was busy. We were the only ones there.

After seeing all there was to see in the display and gift shop, we had a very nice dinner . I enjoyed watching Aurelia eat her popover – dipping it into the honey butter many times.

It was a very nice way to spend an evening during the week of Christmas. Sarah and her mom are very close, and I felt honored to join them. Hopefully, this will become an annual tradition for us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Precious Time with Family Members

Aunt Liz was our "consultant" since she has been making the plum pudding since 1960
Nancy and Diane sporting the "required" head gear
Janet was very unhappy with wearing this!
Nancy being instructed by Aunt Liz in filling the pudding mold
Aunt Liz and Cousin Diane
Cousins Pat and Diane admiring the ornaments
Aunt Liz relating the giver the this ornament - Tony Dadey
L to R: Standing - Diane, Nancy, Janet; Seated: yours truly, Pat, Aunt Liz
Delicious dessert: Plum Pudding and Vanilla Sauce!
Pat, happily decorating her snowman
Our finished project
Cookie Exchange
Donning our "Holiday Specs"
Burgers and fries at Convention Grill - one of my favorite restaurants
Burgers on the grill

Saturday Cousin Diane, Janet, Cousin Pat and my friend, Nancy, gathered at Aunt Liz's with several things on the agenda. The first item was to make 4 batches of English Plum Pudding, using my great-grandmother's recipe, which is over 100 years old. Pat, a retired school teacher, took charge of giving us assignments in making the pudding. My assignments were to assemble the utensils and measure all of the dry ingredients, plus grease the plum pudding pans - 6 in all. Once the batches were mixed, they were put on the stove in roaster pans filled with water and set to steaming for 4 hours.

After a little coffee break, we moved to the living room to decorate Aunt Liz's tree. Traditionally, the first item on her memory Christmas tree is a pair of booties that Wayne, her first-born, now deceased, wore. Following that are Pat's baby mittens. There were ornaments from Aunt Ginny, Tiny, Gemma, a pipe that had belonged to Uncle Vic, pictures of some of the grandkids and great grandkids, and many more. There must have been 50 or more ornaments - each bringing back pleasant times.

Lunch time came next. Each of us brought part of the meal, and it was delicious - including a plum pudding for dessert. Yum!

After cleaning everything up from lunch, we set up the dining room table to make our craft - a snowman for each of us. It was fun to see how each snowman took on a personality.

Finally, we had our cookie exchange: each person brought a dozen cookies for everyone. These cookie packages covered the entire dining room table.

We all agree that this was a very fun event and possibly the start of a new tradition!

While driving home, Nancy and I were hungry for something "solid," so we stopped in at Convention Grill in Edina for burgers and fries. Delicious!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Swedish Smörgåsbord

Some of my friends. Laurey is in the center.

One of many trays of delicious desserts!

Hostesses Barb and Pat

Carin - the winner of the Swedish style show. Carin was born in Sweden.

Last night my knitting club held it's annual Swedish Smörgåsbord. There were 14 of us there, and each one brought something for the event: appetizer, main dish, or dessert. We were to dress in Swedish attire, if we had it in our wardrobe. I don't have any Swedish clothing, so I wore one of my Norwegian sweaters.

The Smörgåsbord was held at Barb's beautiful home. She had every room on the main floor of the house decorated - it was just lovely!

After eating about 3,000 or more calories, we sang some songs, including a few in Swedish (we had the Swedish words on a sheet), told our best Ole and Lena jokes, had a style show, and played a game of "take away" with the gifts we had brought. It was really fun, even though I didn't get home until well after 11 pm.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One-by-One Christmas Dinner

This week we had a Christmas dinner for our One-by-One students and their families. Rosy's mother, grandmother and sister, Katie, came along as Rosy's guests. It was a very nice event. I brought a rosette for each of them for part of the desert and Rosy told them how they are made. I told her they are a tradition in Sweden, which is where one of my ancestors was born.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Target's 12 Days of Christmas

For my Minnesota friends and anyone else who loves songs about Minnesota: here is the new commercial we're seeing these days for Target - taking the idea from the age old song The Twelve Days of Christmas

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Nice Greeting

I got a nice greeting at the grocery store today. A man and his young son were in the line behind me. I overheard the man tell the clerk they had just seen Santa and his reindeer down by the railroad tracks. The little one - about 1 1/2 years old - was holding a candy cane. I told them this will probably be a fun year for them this year because of his age. To that, the little one looked at me and said, "Merry Christmas!" Both his father and I were surprised. I love it that we still say Merry Christmas in Minnesota!

December - Week 2

As predicted, it was a very busy week for me, but so far - so good.
  • Sunday: I sang in church and afterwards did some Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, and boxing gifts - some bound for Germany.
  • Monday: First stop: work, then took a little break to run to the post office to mail some packages. After working all day, I tutored Rosy at the One-by-One program.
  • Tuesday: Worked all day and then came home to do laundry and write out my Christmas cards. I had a Hallmark Christmas movie on too, so all in all, my evening was nice.
  • Wednesday: I woke up to 6 or 7 inches of snow; trudged through a knee-high drift of snow outside my front door to my garage. None of the snow had been plowed yet. Since my car is low, I shoveled my entire driveway before attempting to drive out. The temperature was about minus 15 with wind-chill. On my way to work, I dropped my Christmas cards in the box at the post office and then went to work. After work, I drove to church for choir rehearsal which lasted until 9:30. Man, was I tired by the time I got home and fell into bed!
  • Thursday: My morning started by putting together a hot dish for our Christmas pot-luck at work. Once ready for work, I walked out the door - not to return until after our choir dress rehearsal that night - around 9:15. Oh boy, was I tired. Will I make it through the week?
  • Friday: After working all day, I got home to have a little dinner and then dressed for our first Christmas concert. The concert went very well - the music was inspirational. Rachel's mom and dad came up for it, so I got to spend a little time with them at the conclusion. Most of our conversation was filled with how much we miss Hans, Rachel, Josiah, Annika and little Will. We're as anxious to have them home as they are in coming home.
  • Today: Well, I'm trying to catch up on some house-work, correspondence, etc. Tonight I have another concert performance.
  • Tomorrow: I'll be singing at church in the morning and then performing in the afternoon concert. Aunt Liz, Pat, Janet and Jerry are coming to this concert and we're going out to eat afterwards. I'm really looking forward to that.
It's been busy, but not that bad. I've had some fun, eaten way too much from the goodies put out at the office, enjoyed the Christmas cards that have arrived, and sung along with the many beautiful Christmas pieces on the radio or CD player (yes, I'm too old fashioned to have an Ipod).

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Snow is falling

We're under a blizzard warning. The forecasters are predicting snow beginning around noon today and continuing on through tomorrow night. We could get from 6 to 9 inches with winds from 30 - 40 mph. The temperature is to drop to near zero! I'm about as ready as I can be. I have new tires and windshield wipers on my car. My furnace is tuned up. There's plenty of food in the pantry and refrigerator. I have warm clothes to wear. Thankfully I live only one mile from my work, so being stuck out on the highways and byways won't be an issue for me -- at least not tonight. Tomorrow night may be a different story. I have choir rehearsal tomorrow night, dress choir rehearsal Thursday night, and Christmas choir concerts Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon. Why does this have to happen this week?!

Saturday, December 05, 2009


CaringBridge is a free, nonprofit web service that connects family and friends to share information, love and support during a serious health event, care and recovery. It takes just a few moments to create a personal and private CaringBridge website.

I first heard about CaringBridge a few years ago when someone I knew had a family member who was very ill. It's a website where family members can write a journal or update on behalf of their loved one. It has the individual's story, a place to journal, a page for photos, and a guestbook, where friends and family can leave messages of encouragement.

In the past week and a half, I have been reading and praying for two friends whose families have subscribed to a CaringBridge website for their loved one. These friends have been very sick. One of them, a six year old little boy, Aaron, got deathly sick from the flu. His mom, my friend, Shannon, got him to the doctor just in time. He was rushed from the clinic by ambulance to Children's Hospital and immediately admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. This was the day before Thanksgiving. I'm happy to report that he was moved from the intensive care unit to intermediate care this evening. I'm praying that he continues to improve. His school friends, teachers, and family members have been sending him cards and signing his guestbook on the CaringBridge site. It's been very encouraging to him and his family.

The CaringBridge is a great tool that saves the family lots of precious time and energy to keep loved ones posted.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December - week one

Every year the month of December is busy - this year is no exception. I could go to a concert or play twice every weekend, if I chose to do so. Added to that I'm tutoring and attending choir rehearsals, plus it's busy at work. Another popular event during December is eating. Everywhere you turn, there are treats. Today we had had a special treat at work - three of our authors treated the entire office to pizza, pop, cheesecake and cookies. One of the authors sent a poem in which she said something like take a nice, long lunch because you're over-worked and under-paid. Talk about spreading goodwill!

I'm not complaining, mind you. I like December, and I like treats. The Christmas decorations and lights bring cheer to the darkness - the sun sets around 4:30 in the afternoon now. I love the Christmas music, too. I never tire of the Christmas carols. And the plays and pageants draw me in. One play I'm looking forward to seeing this December is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! If you've never seen it or read the book by the same title, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

How I spent the day after Thanksgiving

A treat for my eyes - horses in a field. We don't see that in the city!

Horse and buggy tired up on Lovina's farm

Lovina's general store

Saint Marys Chapel

Saint Marys Chapel

The malls have no allure for me, especially the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas Day. Oh, I'm not saying that I don't patronize them now and then, but I'm not a fan of the crazy crowds. This year I decided to spend my extended holiday by going to see my Amish friend, Lovina. Believe me, shopping in her general store was very, very peaceful!

I had written to Lovina a couple of weeks ago to see if her store would be open the day after Thanksgiving. She wrote back to say the store would be open, and yes, she had fireballs (These are hot, cinnamon jawbreakers that my three kids really like.). Lovina is Old Order Amish and therefore has no phone — absolutely no electricity. I first met her in the summer of 1988. Jake, another Amish acquaintance of mine, and maker of my dining room chairs and cherry rocker, sent me to her store when I asked him where one could purchase homemade jam. Since then, she and I have become friends and exchange letters now and then and I make a point to go to see her at least once a year.

When I arrived at Lovina's farm, there were no buggies or cars in her driveway. I entered the store and immediately she greeted me and gave me a big hug. She had a young girl working for her - sweeping the floor and stocking shelves. I started to tell Lovina how many pounds of jawbreakers and oatmeal I wanted. I looked around the little store and picked up a book, a couple of jars of soup base, lemon drops, and a few other items. I bought a jar of homemade apple butter, and a nice dust cloth. While shopping, I asked her if the Amish celebrate Thanksgiving. She told me they do, but not the way we "English" do. She said they spend the morning fasting and in prayer. At noon they have a little lunch - which could be turkey, but not necessarily. They usually spend the rest of the day with family. She said Christmas is spent similarly, with the Christmas story being read from the Bible. They give gifts, but only one per person. They do not decorate or sing songs. I found this very interesting.

A young Amish women entered the store. She was holding a little baby. I asked if I could take a peek at him/her, and she graciously turned him my way. I told her I have a new grandson in Germany who I am so anxious to hold. She said I could hold her little one. I sat down on Lovina's chair and held the dear one. He was sucking a pacifier. I noticed his Amish baby attire: a black hat, covering a blue scarf around his head; a black, heavy blanket with blue flannel lining. This was held together by two large safety pins. He seemed content to be held by me while his mommy, Lovina and I chatted. I learned he was nearly three months old. He is the youngest of five children. His name is Yost. I asked if he had a middle name. His mother said he has an initial which is "A." She went on to say her sister-in-law had given birth to triplets on Monday. The sister-in-law already had five children! Wow! Can you imagine?!

Little Yost sat on my lap, watching his mother converse with me. Eventually she began to unwrap him. He had under his black bonnet two blue scarves, tied under his chin. Under the black, flannel lined blanket, was another thinner blanket. When all of that was removed or opened up, I saw his dark blue, Amish baby shirt. It may have been a wrap around, but I'm not sure. I finally got to see his chubby hands, which were so cute. He let me hold one of his hands. His pacifier popped out of his mouth and he gave his mommy a great, big smile. He was such a good baby. I held him while his mother completed her shopping and took her goods outside to her buggy. When she had her last box ready, I helped her walk to her buggy. I said hi to her horse, Ben, and watched her untie the horse and climb into the buggy, carrying Yost the entire time. She put him on her lap and covered him with a blanket, backed out of her parking spot, and drove away.

After leaving Lovina's, I drove back to Rochester where I had lunch with my brother at the Canadian Honker, one of my favorite places to eat. After eating, we walked across the street to Saint Marys Hospital to go to their beautiful chapel. This is such a special place for me, especially during the holidays. It's the most beautiful chapel I have seen. It was built in 1903 and added onto in the 1930s. It seats about 400. Patients are welcome any time of day or night. They can even be wheeled there in a bed, if necessary. Masses, as well as Protestant services, are held there daily. It was designed in the style of a basilica. My photo doesn't do it justice.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Be Thankful

Be Thankful
By Author Unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made the effort.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

List all movies Share this movie with  your  friends

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend with Aurelia

La, la, la, la

She loved driving our grocery cart.

Peder opening her little bag of fish crackers outside the restaurant.

Saturday morning Peder and Sarah brought Aurelia to stay with me. I love it when she comes - - running into my home, proclaiming, "Hi, Grandma D!" After giving me a big hug, she ran to see Peppi. Then she was off to play my piano - another ritual of hers. :-)

I love it that she looks around when she's at my house, especially when we're eating at my kitchen table. I have five Dutch tiles under my kitchen window - next to the table. She loves reciting the images on the tiles - church organ; house; church; kitchen; dining room. She also loves repeating the names of her cousins whose photos grace my refrigerator. I remember once when Josiah stayed with me one. He was sitting in the same chair as Aurelia. While eating, and studying everything on my walls, he said to me, "Grandma, I like your plates." If you know me at all, you know that pleased me!

In the afternoon, we had a wonderful time at Target, where we had a photo shoot together, and did a little shopping. It was fun going through all of the Christmas decoration aisles and looking at this and that. She loves the trees and snowmen.

Sunday we went to church. This time she went to the nursery and I was told she was a very good girl (I knew she would be). Following this we went out to eat with Peder and Sarah in celebration of their birthdays - Sarah's on Friday; Peder's on Saturday.