Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday, Rosy!

Today is Rosy's 8th birthday. She is the little girl I have been tutoring since the fall off 2007. Her family had her party last night, so I got to spend some time with her today. When I called her yesterday to make plans, she asked me if I liked chicken wings. "Yes, I guess so." Then she said we could eat them at Hooter's. Wow! Where did she come up with that? I've never been inside a "Hooter's" and most definitely didn't want to go there with an eight year old child.

So this morning I put on my thinking cap and came up with making reservations at the
Rainforest Cafe in the Mall of America. When I picked her up, I told her I thought it might be better to go to a different restaurant and thought she would like this one. What a good decision that turned out to be! She loved the stream with the alligator that opened wide his jaw and scared some of the little kids. She marveled at the beautiful aquariums and chose one of the fish to be her favorite. The kids' menu gave her lots to do while we waited for our lunches. Then, when the thunder rumbled and the lightning flashed, she was startled, and thought it was fun. The big gorilla in another part of the dining room growled and she thought it was amazing, too. She ordered popcorn shrimp and Safari fries and the waiters brought a sundae to her and sang Happy Birthday, which embarrassed her, so she said. Rosy told me over and over how much she liked this restaurant.

After lunch she chose a darling baby chimpanzee in the gift shop that became her birthday gift from me. She named her Daniella and held her like she was a real baby - even through the movie she had chosen, Mall Cop, which by the way, is a good movie. Get this, during this movie, one big scene takes place in a Rainforest Cafe! Rosy leaned over and whispered, "Donna, that's where we ate lunch!"

I sure enjoy spending this special time with Rosy. She's a wonderful little girl.

Friday, January 30, 2009

"New in Town" - the Movie

Apparently a movie that opened nationwide this week : New in Town, opened in New Ulm, Minnesota, tonight. This is the town in which the movie supposedly takes place. Oddly enough, it wasn't even filmed in Minnesota. In honor of the film, the locals in New Ulm dressed as movie stars for the premiere and staged a Minnesota "regular" outside the theater - - a pot luck supper, complete with hot dishes in crock pots. I just watched the news story on my favorite local news channel, Kare 11. It was hilarious.

25 Things About Me

  1. I am the very proud grandma of four adorable grandchildren: Josiah, Annika, Aurelia, and Marshall.
  2. I am the proud mother of Hans, Peder, and Heidi.
  3. I love the spouses my kids have married: Rachel, Sarah, and Chad.
  4. I have a very close relationship with my brother and sister: Jerry and Janet.
  5. I have two aunts and many cousins whom I adore.
  6. I have always loved music; if I could do things over, I would have stayed in college and become a high school choral director.
  7. I am blessed with my dream job - celebrated my eighth anniversary a week ago.
  8. I have great friends.
  9. My favorite color is red.
  10. I believe you can never have too many dishes.
  11. I'm definitely a morning person.
  12. I made my goal weight at Weight Watchers last night!
  13. I would rather watch a movie than read a book.
  14. I have a rather large collection of movies.
  15. My hobbies are knitting, counted cross stitch, and playing the piano.
  16. When I was in 6th grade, I sang in a talent show which was televised on our local TV station. Part way through, I forgot the words and sort of froze.
  17. I went to the Ed Sullivan show when I was in 5th grade. Guests were Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.
  18. I'm a Christian.
  19. I have a pet canary named Peppi.
  20. I've been to 16 countries.
  21. I drive a red New Beetle and like it as much today as when I bought it, 10 1/2 years ago.
  22. I would rather bake than cook.
  23. My favorite seasons are Spring and Autumn. I wish each would last lots longer than they do here in Minnesota.
  24. I try to have a good time and keep a positive attitude.
  25. My favorite restaurant is The Original Pancake House; favorite entree: the apple pancake.

Friday, January 23, 2009


It never fails to impress me how nice people are when I am driving the automated carts in department or grocery stores. My foot is really improving with the custom-made orthotics I got nearly a couple of weeks ago, but since it is winter here in this frozen tundra and the streets and parking lots are really icy and sloppy in places, I faithfully wear my boots, in which my orthotics won't fit. Thus, when I have to shop, if the store has an automated cart, I use it (actually, they are really fun to drive, and they go "beep, beep" when in reverse!). Just today I did some grocery shopping during my lunch period. Everyone - customers and clerks - are so nice. "Can I get that for you?" "Do you need any help?" Plus, everyone smiles. It's amazing. It sure speaks well of the way the handicapped are treated around here - and hopefully, everywhere!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Time Flies . . .

Today marks my eighth anniversary at my job. Time has really flown. I can hardly believe it.

I am blessed to have this job. I work with wonderful people and am very proud of what we do here. Not everyone can say that.

Just thinking back to how it all started . . . once a week I get this free community newspaper delivered to my home - whether I want it or not. Most weeks it immediately goes into my recycling bin, but a little over eight years ago, I was unhappy in my work situation. This "free" paper was delivered on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. Something told me I should look through the pages. On the Want Ads page, my eye stopped on an ad for a position at an address near my home. The next day, while driving home from Peder's Thanksgiving Day dinner, I decided to drive by the office to check it out. From my vantage point, it looked like a nice building. I drove through the parking lot to get another look. While my car was stopped, I looked ahead of me and there in my headlights were three deer: one sitting under a tree, one chewing on the shrubs, the third one staring into my lights. "It's a sign!" I thought.

I decided to wait until the next week's paper came to see if the job was still being offered. It was; I applied; and the rest is history. I don't consider it luck. I think it was Providential.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hooray for the Red, White and Blue!

It's a proud day for the United States of America - the coming together of millions of people here, to witness the inauguration of the new President of our country. It was a peaceful, emotional day, full of references to one of my favorite presidents, Abraham Lincoln. In fact, the china used at the inaugural luncheon for dignitaries today was supposedly a replica of the china chosen by Mary Todd Lincoln. (I would have loved to have eaten from it.)

I didn't get to watch as much of the telecast as I would have liked (I refused to take a personal day off), but took an extended lunch period and watched both the Vice President and the President take their oaths of office, plus got to hear the beautiful rendition of "Tis a Gift to Be Simple, 'Tis a Gift to be Free."

Over the past few days, I have loved hearing the accounts of some of our Black brothers and sisters and what this moment means to them and would have meant to their forefathers. For many, it was an impossible dream. It speaks well of our nation to go beyond color and elect a man with vigor and vitality to lead us through the next four years. He has a HUGE job ahead of him, and no doubt he will face criticism (isn't that only natural?). I didn't vote for him, but I am happy with the unity that has come about since he won the election. I love how he says, "The United States of America," instead of just "America." The emphasis on "united" hasn't been used much lately. Let's include him and his family in our prayers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Aurelia's Date with Grandma

Little mama.
"Night, night," said little Aurelia.

Saturday evening I got to watch Aurelia while Peder and Sarah went to his company holiday party. I hadn't seen her since Christmas Day, so that in itself was a treat.

She is so good! She loves looking around at all of my plates, etc. on the walls. She was ready to get into my booster chair for dinner and sat patiently while I heated it. I gave her the small fork and spoon that all three of my kids used and she ate her peas, corn, macaronni and cheese and chicken tenders. Grandma spoon-fed her the chocolate pudding. With each bite, I would say, "mmm." And she would smile and respond, "mmm." She is such a quick learner.

We spent a little while in my cottage where she played with a doll and doll cradle. She is such a little mommy with the doll. She reached for something under a small table of mine, baby on her hip, and even though she couldn't reach the object she had noticed, she never once dropped the doll but treated her as though she were a live baby. It was fascinating to watch. After she went to bed, I discovered what it was she had been trying to reach -- the giraffe puppet who was stuffed into a basket. I wish I would have realized this while she was awake. We could have had fun playing with him. (Next time.)

If you don't have a grandchild, or grandchildren, you should get some. I would highly recommend it!

Friday, January 16, 2009

You Might Live in Minnesota If . . .

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through

18 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by,

You might live in Minnesota .

If you're proud that your state makes the national news 96 nights

Each year because International Falls is the coldest spot in the nation,

You might live in Minnesota .

If you have ever refused to buy something because it's "too spendy,"

You might live in Minnesota .

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from November through March,

You might live in Minnesota .

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work there,

You might live in Minnesota .

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of his forehead,

You might live in Minnesota .

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time,

You might live in Minnesota .

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches,

You might live in Minnesota .

If you know how to say...Wayzata, Mahtomedi, Cloquet, Edina, and Shakopee,

You might live in Minnesota .

If you think that ketchup is a little too spicy,

You might live in Minnesota .

If vacation means going "up north" for the weekend,

You might live in Minnesota .

You measure distance in hours,

You might live in Minnesota .

You know several people who have hit deer more than once,

You might live in Minnesota .

You often switch from "Heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back again,

You might live in Minnesota .

You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow

During a raging blizzard without flinching,

You might live in Minnesota .

You see people wearing hunting clothes at social events,

You might live in Minnesota .

You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked,

You might live in Minnesota .

You think of the major food groups as beer, fish, and venison,

You might live in Minnesota .

You carry jumper cables in your car, and your girlfriend knows how to use them,

You might live in Minnesota .

There are 7 empty cars running in the parking lot at Mill's Fleet Farm at any given time,

You might live in Minnesota .

You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit,

You might live in Minnesota .

Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled with snow,

You might live in Minnesota .

You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter, and of course, road construction,

You might live in Minnesota .

You can identify a southern or eastern accent,

You might live in Minnesota .

Your idea of creative landscaping is a plastic deer next to your blue spruce,

You might live in Minnesota .

If "Down South" to you means Iowa ,

You might live in Minnesota .

You know "a brat" is something you eat,

You might live in Minnesota .

You find -10 degrees "a little chilly",

You might live in Minnesota .

You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all your Minnesota friends,

You DO live in Minnesota

A Huge Fire in Austin

A few times a week I read the news on the Internet from my hometown, Austin, Minnesota. After hearing a reference on the radio this morning to a fire which took place there yesterday, I went to the site once I arrived at work. Apparently this was a huge fire, which overtook nearly one side of a block on Main Street. This is the block on which our family traditionally stands to view the annual Memorial Day (7 minute long) parade. We actually stand across the street from the location of the fire.

The newspaper did a good job of covering the story on video. You can watch it here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do I Have a Right to Complain?

Okay, the temperature this morning was 20 below zero with a windchill of 32 below. Over 200 schools in Minnesota were closed due to the weather, and hundreds more had late starts. Me, I'm at work. My car started just fine. I let it run about five minutes while I returned to my kitchen to put some lunch together. On my short drive to the office, I saw no one at the bus stop.

In spite of this cold weather, we seem to deal with it just fine (with a little grumbling, of course).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

You betcha you're from Minnesota when...
You only own three spices...salt, pepper and ketchup.
You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.
You've spent the last 15 minutes getting your child dressed to play in the snow only to have him tell you he has to go to the POTTY NOW!
You thought Grumpy Old Men was documentary.
You design your Halloween costumes to fit over snowmobile suits.
You feel warm and toasty at -12°.
You know what leaves make good toilet paper.
You know the four seasons—Winter, Still Winter, Not Winter and Almost Winter.
Or: You know there are only two seasons—Winter and The Time When They Fill In The Potholes In The Road.
Though you're not breaking the law, you break into a cold sweat when the game warden appears.
You know Ole and Lena personally.
You owe more money on your snowmobile than your car.
You think the opening of deer season is a national holiday.
You find -40° only a mite chilly.
You think everyone from a different state has an accent.
Your husband thinks sexy lingerie is a flannel nightgown with only eight buttons.
You've ever taken your kids trick-or-treating in a blizzard.
You find it exciting to stare through a hole in the ice and look at the bottom.
You have ten favorite recipes for venison.
You can tell the difference between a gopher and a chipmunk at 300 yards.
You think white rice is exotic and wild rice is a hot dish.
You've attended a formal affair in your best dress, wearing your finest jewelry and your Sorrels.
Somewhere in the state is a piece of frozen metal with bits of your tongue stuck to it.
At least three times a year your kitchen doubles as a meat processing plant.
When you win the prize for the smallest fish, you're proud of it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some of these don't apply to me, but of those, I know some for whom they do. Where ever you are, I hope you are keeping warm!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Old Man Winter has a Grip on Minnesota

Yesterday we had a full-fledged Minnesota blizzard. Hundreds of schools were closed and our One-by-One tutoring program for last night was cancelled. The highways were jammed with commuters. What to my surprise, leaving my office last night, I discovered some "Angel" completely brushed all of the snow from my car. How nice! My commute was pretty normal, thanks to the snow plows who passed by our streets moments before I drove on them. I got about 6" of snow at my home.

This morning we woke to temperatures well below zero, the windchill was reported to be minus 32. Our high is to be minus 5. But get this, tonight another Arctic blast is to drop down on us, bringing us 2 to 4 inches of new snow, and then then mercury is going to drop even lower. In December, we had weather that we usually get in January. This January is starting out to be colder and more severe than ever! My cousins Pat & Pudge and Aunt Liz, plus my friends, Jim and Lil, made an excellent decision to spend January in Arizona. They're basking in 70 degree weather! You can read Pat's blog here.

I know it sounds like I'm complaining, and for that, I'm sorry. We still have much for which to be thankful: warm homes, cars that run, plenty of food, many items of clothing in our closets. My prayers are with the dear people we met while in Ukraine who at this time have no gas, thanks to political reasons. They're suffering more than we can imagine. May God help them.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another Precious Photo of Marshall

With winter here, Marshall is usually all bundled up. I took this opportunity to show off his cute little body. Heidi loved pretending to box with Marshall's little fists.
It's so quiet in my home now. Both Peppi and I miss them very much.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Why Does Time Have to Pass So Quickly?

One proud grandma.

Heidi and Marshall have come and gone. I don't understand why that time goes by so quickly. Just as last November, I got so attached to him. Today I am mourning holding him. He, and my other three grand children, are so precious. I sure wish I could see them more often.

While Marshall and Heidi were at my home, Marshall said his first words. I heard him say, "Ja" and "Hi." Honestly, it was so clear. Imagine a seven week old speaking so soon! It was so fun to hold him and sleep next to him. He makes the cutest sounds.
Last night my girlfriend, Nancy, helped me take Heidi to the airport since BUGGIE is way too small for all of the "stuff" these young families have to haul now-a-days. Heidi had a giant stroller on which the car seat attaches. Then she had a huge suitcase, a diaper bag, her purse, and of course, Marshall. (I saved the best for last!) It was particularly hard for me to watch her go through security where I could no longer assist her. For that she has to remove the car seat from the stroller; place the collapsed stroller on the conveyor belt; shove through the diaper bag; add a plastic (government provided) tray with her shoes and purse (she had already stuffed her leather jacket into her very packed suitcase); remove Marshall from the car seat and place the car seat on the conveyor belt; and finally she carries Marshall through the arch. All of this is by her lonesome! My heart ached for her. Nancy and I continued to watch. After she cleared the arch with no problem, she began gathering her things (all the while there are others following her), when I happened to notice one of the TSA’s come around the conveyor belt and take the stroller down and opened it up for her. I began clapping. Mind you, Heidi NEVER saw me do this. She would not have approved!! To my knowledge, she didn't hear me either because she didn't look back. I sure wish they would allow us to help our loved ones pass through security. Oh well.
Now my house is quiet, but there are pleasant memories all over the place.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

I'm Having a Very Nice Weekend

Heidi and Marshall are my house-guests this weekend and I'm sure enjoying their stay. Marshall is now seven and a half weeks old and is so sweet. We weighed him this morning and he weighs 12 pounds. There are times when he eats and eats, and other times when he sleeps a lot. He's got the cutest smile.

A couple of years ago I divided up my photos taken of my three kids over the years and decided they should have them. Hans and Peder were home for Christmas that year, so theirs were given to them. Last night Heidi looked through the pictures I had put aside for her. What a cutie! In some she was less than a year old. Others are from when she was a bit older. One was taken after she got her award at the Y Swim Team awards ceremony when she was in 3rd grade. Some were from her high school, and a few are from college days. I love the memories that surface when we look back. Heidi commented on my "funny" hair do in several of the photos. My old glasses brought a chuckle to me. It was a good time.

This afternoon Steve came by to pick up Heidi and Marshall to go to Peder's to watch the Viking's playoff game. I'm sure Marshall will be passed around a bit.

The time goes so fast when my kids come home. I love every minute they are here.