Friday, October 2, 2015

30 day challenge update

I'm not doing so very well at doing 30 consecutive days of exercise. But I am moving more than I might have with out the challenge.

The big news is that I have a new walking partner and we've been doing long kind of slower walks and getting fresh air and good visits and putting on miles.  Both of us have been using Map My Walk at the Under Armour fitness site.

Here are my stats for last three days.

Wednesday 4.5 miles

Thursday 4.96 miles

Friday 4.49 miles

Friday, September 18, 2015

End of Summer = New School+New Things for Adult Children= Excitement and Trepidation

Anther post from early August that never got posted.  I'll add comments in purple with updates where applicable.
Where has summer gone ? ! ?

The kids start school on September 1.  The MACCRAY (Maynard, Clara City, Raymond) school district is about 1/2 again as large as Red Lake County Central, but from what contact we've had so far, it still seems like a very personal and caring atmosphere.  Just as we had up north,  there are several school workers among our members.

Sophie and Clara will be in school here in town, just a mile away.  Our younger kids will be in the neighboring city of Maynard, seven miles away.  That seems blessedly close compared to the distance our kids used to have to travel to school.  The junior high/high school in Oklee was 13 miles away, and the elementary school in Plummer was 17 miles from where we lived.

MACCRAY has a four day school week for at least the next year.  I'm excited about that.  When we first put our kids in public school five years ago, one of the neighboring districts had a four day week.  I remember saying to some of the other moms that I would really enjoy that extra day with my kids.  Well, now I get that extra day and I'm tickled pink.

Another change for us this year will be that the high school and part of the elementary is what's considered an iPad school.  My kids have had tablets.  I'm not impressed.  I was assured by the counselor we talked to regarding enrolling our kids, that the iPads they use in the schools are strong and durable.  I hope this is true.  I do not relish the thought of forking over replacement money when my chronically destructive children damage their iPads.  Oy weh.  Some of the kids are excited.  They think the idea of having a gadget/device that they are allowed to use in school is pretty cool.
So far, no broken iPads.  In the elementary school the kids leave them in cubbies at school when not in use. "That's a mercy anyhow!"
Louisa has moved to Moorhead into an apartment with some girlfriends.  Whitney is one of Louisa's best friends from up north.  The girls have known each other since they were six.  Sabrina became a good friend of theirs this past year in the MSUM Nelson Hall.  Louisa has just a couple of prerequisites to take before applying for nursing school at M-State, so she has registered to take them on-line this fall and put in as many hours as able working at Eventide Senior Living.  She hopes to start her nursing classes in January.
Louisa ran into some unexpected snags with her online classes. She was familiar with the website through which she was to submit her work, but for some reason, her instructor was not seeing her assignments come through.  Because of this and other factors, she decided to simply work this semester.  She got a full time job at a day care and she's still on call for her CNA work at Eventide if she wants to pick up shifts.
Elsie will be returning to Bethany in Mankato this fall for her second full year of college and her final year of high school.  She will continue to live with Lance and Cassie for now.  She has hopes to get an apartment with a girlfriend once she turns 18 in January, but that option is still being, .... bandied around.  I'm in much less of a hurry for her to grow up than is she.  Because of the difference in graduations requirements between Oklee and Clara City, Elsie will graduate from RLCC in Oklee on May 27, 2016.  She is in fact in Oklee this weekend to take care of some school related business and to see her friends from there.  Elsie will move to Mankato next weekend.'
Elsie seems to be doing well.  She is still working at Hillrest nursing home in Mankato, but has limited the number of shifts she can do in a two week period to five so she has more time for school.  
Matt is also hoping to go to school at some point.  Because of expenses and missed work due to his car accident, he has decided to postpone his start date once again.  But he is still planning to move to Fargo come fall.  He's been checking out apartments and filling out the necessary paperwork.  I've not heard yet whether he has found anything for sure yet.  As far as jobs go, he's open to just about anything that will give him enough hours to pay his expenses and save some money for school.  With his experience working for Quinten, and other summer workers heading back to school, he could probably find work for a general contractor if that's what he decides to do.  He's also keeping his eyes and ears open for anything else that might sound good.
Matt has his own place in Fargo now, a studio type apartment.  Last I heard he still had one more load of stuff to bring down from rural Oklee.  He has a job, installing siding, but he doesn't start until Monday, since he had Marine drill this week.
Jeremy has also moved to a new apartment, with one of his Mankato area acquaintances.  He's working at Hardee's to pay his expenses and is also continuing his various creative pursuits such as writing and electronic game producing.  He's also in line to start with the British Amway affiliate, Britt Worldwide, once he gets his driver's license.  

Except for having been mugged in Mankato over the summer, I think he is mostly happy with his life.  I'm taking him a dresser this weekend.  Then he can stop living out of boxes and be happier still.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Packing up the Sea Green Room

The following is a post I did during the packing last winter.  For some reason it didn't get posted.  It gives a little glimpse into what we were feeling and doing.  I suspect it was from late March or early April.


I was feeling a little melancholy yesterday afternoon. 

Tues and Wed last week Elsie was home for spring break; she and I boxed up her possessions.  Then she said goodbye to a few friends and returned to Mankato.  She will not be home again before we move. 

Louisa was home for the weekend; she and I boxed up her possessions.  This is what's left of Louisa's stuff.  Her firearms and bow, and the dress she'll wear her last Sunday here.   Kind of sad and lonely looking.


I will confess here that I was tickled when I saw that the congregation did not repaint this room. The pictures I took didn't turn out well, but on one wall, Louisa has light greenish yellow rather than the bluish green. I was skeptical when she first wanted to do this, about how the colors would turn out. But I ended up really liking it.

On the yellowish wall, she used the bluer color to write the words to a favorite song. On one of the blu-green walls, she used the yellower color to freehand the words to verse 4 of Psalm 23 above and alongside the double doors, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me."

Day 2 of the 30 day challenge

I chose this Chris Powell Level 1 Beginners Workout today.

This video first caught my eye because the participants appear to all be at least a bit overweight as am I. 

"If they can do it, so can I."   Being as out of shape as I currently am, I have had trouble doing even the beginning exercises on some videos.   I was optimistic.  

But as the video started, Mr. Powell went through the lineup of participants, and all but one had lost significantly large amounts of weight over the past year.  The only one who had not lost a substantial amount of weight was a friend of his who was just visiting.  

"Oh no!" thought I, "Even if they're overweight, they are probably more fit than am I." 

I wondered if I'd be able to keep up after all. 

And I'm happy to say that, yes, I was able.

What I really liked about this video is that it really, truly is for beginn
ers. For those with significant motion loss due to obesity or age or other factors. 

One of the movements is simply getting down to the ground on all fours and getting back up, and repeating that.  He constantly reminded the viewers about the weight lost that the other participants had managed, and that at first they too had trouble with such basic movements.  

I think this would be a great starting point for someone with severely limited motion, strength, and cardio ability.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Day one of my new 30 day challenge

I'm starting a 30 day challenge with my friends.  Each day, for 30 days, I have to do some sort of exercise.  Something I can claim as fitness related.  Today I did  this exercise video.  It's a perfect way to start, since I'm so stiff and immobile  these days.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Scary thing in the midst of the moving rush

This shot shows clearly the reason for the great joy we feel and the prayers of thanksgiving we send heavenward.
As some of you know, Matt was in a serious car accident a week before we moved.  He broke the left side of his sacrum.  Totaled his car.  But we are very thankful that is all that happened.  He had to be off work for several weeks and he had to reschedule his USMC annual training.  His boss, Quinten at Nelson and Nelson Construction was very patient and accommodating.

Matt had planned to live with a friend up north, Lana, the mom of the same Nelsons brothers Matt works for.  She ended up being ersatz nurse for him, and perhaps babying him through his recovery.  I definitely think Matt had a pretty good deal for his convalescence.

Matt now says he's pretty much back to normal, but during cold  and damp times he can notice the little bit of arthritis that came with the healing.

We thank God for allowing Matt to walk away from his accident with as little pain and inconvenience as he had.

The truck was balanced so precariously that the truck kind of rocked back and forth.

Catching up

I can't believe I've not blogged since before we moved  in April.  Wow!!!!

I'm not even going to try to make a nicely written summary of everything that's happened since then. I plan to write a few little posts on some of the bigger things that have happened.

But for now, some highlights:
  • Sad to leave our old home.
  • Excited to meet our new people.
  • Former members gave us a great send-off with a parish-wide final service and a nearly all-afternoon going-away party.  We had a huge turn-out of helping hands to load the truck and finish off the packing.  And I am still embarrassed by how we left the parsonage.  But we are grateful to those who said, "Just go, ... we'll finish up.  There's not going to be anyone moving in right away anyway."
  • New members helped much here, with unloading truck and unpacking necessities.  And they worked diligently to build a second bathroom in our basement.
  • Living on the edge of a small town rather than 13 miles from closest smaller yet town.
  • Farm fields across street one direction, much used BNSF railway line closer in another direction than our mailbox was at the old place.
  • Kids can play in the creek and catch crawdads in one direction and can walk to library, pool, grocery store, bakery, in other direction.  
  • Lesser used city park with playground and extensive green space right next to our house, and separating us from the rest of town.
  • Tight fit in smaller house, still trying to figure out how to best make it work.
  • Installed storage shelves and working on additional living space in basement.
  • Louisa and Else came home from college for summer.
  • We get to see more of Jeremy, less of Matt.
  • Clara spent most of the summer at Tiffany Bs outside of Plummer, MN, doing farm chores with horses and other animals, helping with toddlers, continuing to train her filly, working for Doc Hagen 
  • Swimming lessons and annual pool pass = very brown kids and mom, and some pretty good swimmers
  • Louisa and Elsie working at Clara City Care Center as CNAs
  • Joe's office in the living room = oft-frustrated dad and many spur-of-the-moment outings for mom and kids
  • First one-day VBS experience: Jesus the Good Shepherd: prophecy and fulfillment.  The church here does three one-day VBS's a year, one at Christmas, one at Easter, and one during the summer.
  • Helped Louisa move to Moorhead and into her first apartment.  
  • Egress window in basement done.

Besides that, I can say that we love our new church and our new members and our new community.  Just as each pastor is wonderful and challenging in his own way, and each pastor's wife and family, can be both a blessing and a challenge, so too each new home and community, and each of a pastor's calls presents it's own challenges and blessings.  We are still getting to know everything and everyone here and they are still getting to know us.  But in all things, God is good.

The summer has flown by, with getting settled, kids coming and going, Bible camp, visiting new members, and all the regular stuff like meals and laundry and cleaning toilets. And eating and preserving all the wonderful garden produce our new members and friends have provided for us.

We look forward to next Sunday attending the installation of Pastor Jeff Merseth as the new pastor of Clearwater Lutheran Parish.  Jeff and Megan and their kids are very dear to us, as are the members Joe formerly served, and among whom we lived and made a home for over 13 years.  We pray for all involved God's richest blessings, and many years of joy through this special temporal manifestation of the Communion of Saints.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Every once in awhile, ...

Every once in awhile I am hit with one of those moments.  One of those moments when I see the concrete results of what Joe and I are trying to do with our kids. 

And every once in awhile, when those moments hit, my emotions run amok.  Happy my child is resilient.  Sad I can't do more.  Pleased our parenting seems to be paying off.  Frustrated that life is sometimes so hard. 

All of these and more.  But pride.  Yes, pride, good or bad, pride is a big emotion right now.   

Raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is, of course, our primary responsibility. And this particular moment hasn't to do with that part of our parenting.

Besides that eternal undertaking, in the regular day to day things, we try to raise strong and independent, resourceful kids.  Kids who can stand on their own two feet come what may.  Kids who will know how to survive even if something devastates our American way of life.

Simply having a big family and living on one income goes a long way in helping with that.  We can't live according to mainstream society's standards.  We can't provide our kids everything they want.  We can't have everything we want.  But we can show with our creativity and life choices how to live "outside the box."  How to have a rich life in spite of doing it differently than many of our neighbors and friends.

It also means that as our kids get older, and they begin to fend for themselves, sometimes we have to let them work their way through hard times.  Flounder.  Come up with their own unique best way to solve the problem.  Each of the four oldest has gone through such times.  And each one has handled such things differently.  Feelings of stress, deprivation, jealousy, even bitterness, sometimes accompany such challenges.  This is adult life, right?  It's a hard world.

But as every parent can attest, sometimes I just really wish I could fix everything for my kids.  Many times, because of our life choices and the blessing of a large family, we simply CAN'T step in and help out.  Except by simply, "being there," for them.  In the long run, I hope that makes our children stronger as adults.

It is still hard, though, to watch them going through difficult times.

This little facebook interchange between Elsie and I led to one of those moments I mentioned at the beginning of the post.  The kind of moment that just hits me. 

Earlier in my conversation with Elsie, I'd asked her if she needed help hauling stuff home after her school year was done.  She said she couldn't make any concrete plans until she got a car.  I had not heard anything about car trouble.  And so I asked.

Wow!  It hits me right in the back of the throat.  I am astounded.  Astounded, humbled.  This young lady hadn't even let me know she was having troubles.  She is a 17 year old, living pretty much on her own, working 15-30 hours a week, while taking college classes.  She is also in track. 

And apparently, she's been doing this all without the use of a car.  And without parental support.

(Joe said he thinks she had been talking to her Grandpa about it. Grandpa's smarter than we are in such matters anyway.)

Elsie, I'm pretty sure that not every moment in the last week or so has felt as nonchalant as your reply sounded.  But I have got to say, you're quite a gal!

Love you tons.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

How do you solve a problem like Mary?

Frantic search in all the usual places for the car keys this morning so Joe could go to town. Then one of the sisters suggested, "Sister, considering it's Mary, I suggest you look in someplace UNusual."

I thought back to the last time I drove. Tuesday. Coming home from Bible study. Late. Sharon waiting here to help pack, and me not home to direct her. McDonald's bag from previous day on the floor of car. Grabbed it and the two cups and threw in dumpster on the way into the house. Dumpster empty except two McD cups and a bag. No keys. I'd have seen them.

I'd have seen them, right? I really wouldn't have been so dumb as to throw away my car keys?

"Which dumpster, Mary?"

"Uh, ... I'm not sure. Maybe that one," replied Mary hesitantly, adding to herself, "Let's hope so, since that one has nicely tied bags and the other one is full of loose garage detritus."

Joe removes the nicely tied bags from the one he's searching, while I grab garbage bags and start to fill them with the gunk from the other.

Joe found a McD's bag at the bottom.

"Did you find two cups?"


"Check again."

"No cups. Just a bag."

"Shoot that means it's in this one."

Joe repacks all his nicely tied bags.

I dump the dumpster all over the driveway and Joe joins me in digging.

A few minutes later Joe exclaims with great relief, "Here they are!"

What a dope I am!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A little hand written pick-me-up

Yesterday I received a surprise note card in the mail.  I did not recognize at first the name on the return address.  But I was curious about the handwritten address.  It did not appear to be junk mail.  Curiouser.  Some handwritten something, addressed just to me, from a person whose name was, well, familiar, as all Scandinavian American names come to be after living a community like this.  But not instantly recognizable as someone I knew. 

I eagerly slit open the envelope, and as soon as I began reading I knew who the sender was.  This card is from one of "my readers."  When I started this blog, blogging was kind of new.  Many people had online feeds from their favorite bloggers.  I myself had a list I checked every morning, like scanning the morning headlines.  These blog feeds were, in a sense, an early version of the crazy social media we have today.  These writers were my friends.  And my readers were my friends, too, leaving  comments or e-mailing me about one or another post.  Occasionally, one or another with more "old fashioned" social skills would actually pop me a letter in the mail. 

Off the top of my head, I believe I've only gotten real honest to goodness snail mail from a couple of blog readers.  The note I got yesterday was from one woman who has kindly read and supported me throughout all these years of blogging with occasional handwritten notes of thanks. 

You see, this reader grew up near here.  Her parents were both under Joe's care as homebound parishioners when we first moved here.  I can't say that I have met this dear woman in person.  Perhaps I have, once or twice.  It seems I remember an in person conversation.  But I'm not sure.  I do know that I remember her as a person.  A mental image.  This is O and G's daughter.  The one who lives near the Twin Cities.  The one who reads my blog and enjoys hearing about things at home.

Her notes to me throughout the years had a positive impact on my writing.  It brought me a deeper kind of pleasure to talk about things in the northland when I knew that someone who could see it in her mind's eye was enjoying it.  It challenged me to lend visual details to my posts.  To dig a little bit for local things of interest.

I found yesterday I was blue in a different kind of way to think that I won't be able to write about this community, changes in the seasons, little nothings in our life here, for much longer.  It made me sad that this dear reader will hear only news of our new home and community and people.  All good things, of course.  But not the same as hearing about home.

And so yesterday, as I scanned this kind note or thanks and support, I remembered this friend fondly.  And I thought, "I'm going to write her a little thank you note for her kind words."  But then I immediately thought further, "STOP!  You know good and well you will never do that.  So don't even kid yourself."

But I can write a blog post of thanks and kind thoughts.  And I know she will see it.  And I hope she will smile.  Thanks you for your kind words of encouragement throughout the years. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just a very quick snip of sentimentality in the midst of a day of catching up on laundry

In the process of getting our whole household sorted and packed up to move, I find it increasingly hard to keep up with the regular stuff.  Besides that, the pile of "not sure where to put this" stuff is growing exponentially. 

The living room is a twisted, jumbled wreck of boxes and bins that are either 1) waiting for those few more things that I just know I will find to fit in them; or 2) filled with the miscelleny of life in a ten person household and waiting to be sorted.

Besides that, my couch had been, until the last hour or so, heaped high with clean laundry, some folded, some not.

To get to the chair I like for my morning coffee, I have to wend and wind my way through the mess, planning the route ahead of time to descry a way through, and looking at each step before setting my foot down.  And all this without spilling my coffee. 

I've mostly managed to keep the dining room table mostly clear.  But we have a second table in our dining room, still sitting there from before Christmas when Jeremy came with his gang.  Every time we've gotten it cleared off, it fills up again before we get it out of the room.  And now that we're trying to pack to move, it has become an extra place to stack and sort and store temporarily.  Which leaves us squeaking and squishing our way around the regular table and seats when we have to sit down to eat or answer the phone or anything over that direction. 

And I so I deemed today the day to get caught up on folding the clean clothes and sorting out all the bits and pieces of packing that has stacked up.

I find that I'm just ready to be done.  I'm not in a hurry to leave this community and this town and these friends.  But if it has to be done, I'd just as soon it just BE DONE. 

Something that is perhaps unique to a pastor's family situation, is the attachment we feel to two communities.  Our hearts are in two places.  We are attached to these people here, and caring for them in times of happiness and sorrow.  They've been our family for the last thirteen and a half years.

And yet we're eager to form those same attachments with our new church family.  Different ones have been periodically calling to check on things since Joe accepted the call.  But in the last week, we've had more calls from more people.  Asking about Joe's preferences in scheduling things in his first few weeks there; asking about our preferences about paint or other household repair issues; and so on. 

Today one of the ladies called to ask about window shades.  She and some of the other ladies noticed that the current shades were nearing the end of their lives.  And so she and her husband had purchased shades for some windows and were wondering about doing more before we come. 

It's a rare thing in today's world to feel such love and care and support from people that one doesn't even really know.  It's a gift in this broken world to see the members of Faith showing such love for their new pastor and his family.

And we see the same love here, too.  Our people here have offered to help in so many ways.  Some have taken a load of stuff to the thrift store or metal recycling.  Another friend has picked up several loads of boxes and other packing materials from a local business.  Others have come to help me clean or pack.  Another friend taught Sophie how to finish the binding on the quilt she started long ago, and will take time from her schedule to teach Clara with the same.  She also bought the kids a bucket of ice cream and some Fruit Loops as a special treat.  Others bless us with gifts of money or food items to help out during this time.

And it's not becasue they are trying to hurry us away.  It's because of the blessing of love between them and their pastor and his family.

I find myself constantly on the verge of tears, thinking of leaving here.  And also emotional when anticipating the joy of being in a new community of similar love and support.

But to add one more thing to my precarious state, ... the snow melted.  That is usually not a bad thing.  It is this time, though, since it exposed my new flower bed that the kids and I put in last summer.  Oh, I was looking forward to finishing it off this summer and nurturing the young plantings through another growing season, enjoying their growth and beauty. 

We had planted a clump birch out our living room window the first summer we were here.  We had to replant it twice because of damage from weather, kids, and youth group outings.  But finally it's a wonderful clump of white and black boles and silvery green leaves.  When I first planted that birch I envisioned it surrounded by a perennial bed, with a raised hill curving around one side.

I imagined.

And dreamed.

And hoped.

And had babies.  And mowed lawn.  And planted vegetables.  And put in other flowers here and there.

Finally last year was able to create my long awaited landscaping.

And this spring, we will leave before I even see it coming back to life after it's first winter's rest. 

It creates a strange mix of sadness and excitement, and tears of joy and frustration, when I  contemplate, among other bigger things, my flower bed here and the newly painted living room walls in the Clara City parsonage.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Getting ready to move

So, we have shifted from an effort to rearrange rooms (see index tab "Room Upset 2014"), to preparing to move.  Here are some highlights, starting with those relating to the Room Upset:
  • Just before Joe got the call for Clara City, as in, the day before, we finally had finished Sophie and Stella's orange room.  Sophie had requested an orange room shortly after she got a quilt from her Grandma A. that was bright colors with black: orange, green, purple.  We had gradually gotten some items for her in those colors, a lamp, clock, storage containers, etc.  Kyle N. painted the bunk bed in a bright green.  We had bought and installed wire shelving for the closet. 
  • Our poor youngest girls were finally moved into their own room.  Or at least their own beds.  Clara and Sophie still had several piles and bins of things to remove from when they shared that room.  But at least the girls had their own beds for the first time in months.  
  • We got Clara and Sophie's stuff moved out.  Since we knew by that time that we'd be moving, they simply sorted and packaged most of this for the move.  
  • And seemingly strange, yes, ...  we moved Clara and Sophie's empty dressers into the garage and moved Inge and Donna's into their room.  Why, might you ask, would we bother moving dressers into a room?  Because we'd been squeezing past them in the hallways for the last four or five months.  With all the hauling and carrying we knew was coming, we wanted to clear the hallways.  

Sophie's custom shelves
The Orange Room and the Orange Lamp
The Purple Trip and the Purple Clock and the Purple Cork Board

That's the summary of the tail ends of the Room Upset.   The highlights of the move operations follow.
  • We started by sorting books.  Books and books and books.  Besides an extensive home library we had boxes and boxes of homeschool books to organize and figure out what to do with.  Most of these had been boxed up since we quit homeschooling and changed our school room into our Louisa room.  But in that time the boxes and been shifted and spilled and restacked and respilled and it was simply chaos.  We worked on books for about a week.  And even then each new thing we started we'd find more.  But most are either packed, gone to Goodwill, or waiting to be sold or given to other homeschoolers.  
  • We have all the stored-for-later-use shoes, boots, jackets, coats, snowpants, etc, sorted and packed.  Except those, of course, that are currently in use or that I find while digging through other things.
  • Joe's parents came for a quick weekend and helped with many little sorting and packing jobs.  Primarily they did some of the lesser used and more breakable kitchen and dining room items.  
  • Kim and Todd C. brought us pallets and more pallets.  We know that with the spring thaw comes a very wet garage floor.  And we knew we wanted to use the garage to store the packed boxes.  Joe and Matt gradually cleaned out areas of the garage enough to start to organize the stuff.
  • The kids and I have sorted and packed many/most of the toys.
  • Clara has been such a trooper to haul and haul and haul many stored boxes up from the basement for me to sort.  
  • Sophie and Clara (who are homeschooled) have been busy helping to keep up with regular household tasks such as dishes and meal prep and laundry, along with their studies.
  • Joe has all his guns and ammo sorted and ready.  
Some of our book sorting
Some more of our book sorting
Donna and I working in the living room
John and Stella helping Grandma
Grandpa cutting packing bubbles for Grandma
Grandma and Grandpa packing some of the dishes
Garage Chaos
More Garage Chaos
Garage Order
And besides all this, we've gotten many details of the move worked out:
  • Primarily the dates.  Joe will preach his last sermon here on April 12.  The churches here have planned a joint service that day with a meal following, so we will be able to say our goodbyes to the members of all four churches at one time.  Our new congregation is sending a semi up here on Monday, April 13, to move us down there.  It is their hope/tentative plan to rent a semi trailer for some extra time, so that we can gradually move in rather than having trip over boxes while trying to figure it all out.   And Joe's installation at Faith Lutheran Church in Clara City will take place on April 19.  Our new church family is planning a hog roast to welcome us and to thank Pastor Muehlenhardt who has served them during the vacancy.
  • We have all the details worked out for the kids' schools.  Sophie, Clara, and Inge are homeschooled now.  All will be homeschooled after the move.  Next fall, all will enter the MACCRAY schools.  We're excited for this since the Jr. High and High school are right in the same town, and the elementary schools are each only seven or eight miles away.  This is only half as far as our nearest school is now!  Elsie is currently doing PSEO work at Bethany, which allows her to get two years of college under her belt while she finishes her last two years of highschool.  And we've just found out that she will be able to continue to be enrolled in Oklee while doing this, so that she can still graduate with her Oklee classmates.
  • Big Kids' summer plans: these are still in the works.  Somewhat.  Elsie will be living with us and hopes to work at the Clara City Care Center as a CNA.  She would have preferred to stay in Mankato and keep her same job, but Joe and I feel that as a 17 year old, she still needs the time with her family.  She, understandably, does not agree.  But I hope it will not be too miserable for her.  Clara may or may not stay up here with Tiffany's family.  Clara has been working for Tiffany doing babysitting, housework, and outdoor chores, and learning from Tiffany livestock husbandry skills.  And she's bought from Tiffany a filly in exchange for some of her hours.  They have plans to continue training on the filly this summer, which is the reason Clara wants to stay.  Louisa is (this week) planning to stay in Moorhead for the summer, but I'm not sure she's decided for sure.   I keep hoping she'll decide to come stay with us in Clara City, but she has a very good paying CNA job in Moorhead.  I've encouraged her to be sure to calculate food and rent when deciding which options would really be a better deal.  But I suspect she is calculating based more upon my boring meals and all the dishes she might potentially have to wash in Clara City.  We shall see.  And Matt has found a place to live up here until he can move to Moorhead in the fall when he plans to start classes in Law Enforcement and/or Criminal Justice.  Along with his USMC drill weekends and annual training, he will be able to continue working for Quinten (Nelson and Nelsons Construction) throughout the summer.
Of course there are many, many things left to do.  But we go one day at a time.  We trust God to provide what we need, whether it's patience, time, energy, brain power, help, health, strong bodies, well behaved kids, etc.

And although it didn't exactly fit into any of the above paragraphs, I want to thank Barb C. who has brought us several Suburban loads full of boxes and Chris V. who dragged a absolutely huge bag of  packing bubbles home from Digi-Key.  We've had gifts of food.  We've had the support of many prayers.  God is good. 

Oh, and we made a quick trip down to Clara City to visit a little and to see the lay of the land.  Marsha P. and the other ladies helped me to pick out paint colors; and they have been busy painting some of the rooms down there.  Marsha has been my main contact at our soon-to-be home and I appreciate all the questions she's answered and measurements she's taken, etc.  Jeffrey L. has been so helpful to Joe in getting everything ready for the move.  He and the men have had many decisions to make to help us settle in easily.  They are putting a new bathroom in the basement of the parsonage and are working on finding some sort of space for the pastor's office.  Joe's vast pastoral book collection, which he indeed uses regularly, needs a home with much wall space for shelves.

And speaking of books, I ran into Sheryl W. yesterday while getting my hair cut at Gelene L.'s.  Sheryl mentioned several boxes of Old Norwegian books, some pastoral, that her dear departed mother Ragna had wanted Joe to have.  So, Joe, I think I forgot to tell you last night, but you will be getting some more books before we leave. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Geeky redneck ingenuity

The right hinge on my laptop broke shortly after Christmas.  I used traditional gray duct tape to hold things together.  My charging cord has two bits of duct tape, one silver and one orange, at opposite ends, holding things together.  My disc drive stopped working when I dug out the pre-school and kindergarten computer games for Inge a year or so ago.  I guess the old Windows 98 games were too old, and so messed up my drive somehow.  My screen flickers sometimes, as though it's about to give out.  And there's some sort of fan problem that causes the fan to periodically stop working and the computer to shut itself down.  I always try to sit with it propped up so that much air can get in. 

And then yesterday my second hinge gave out. 

Joe said I could probably get a non-functional case for my laptop, for about $30, and then switch out the innards into that one.  But with all those other little things, and the move coming up and ensuing change in income, ... I don't really want to spend the money. 

Today, when I probably ought to have been packing, I found myself challenged to do a little engineering.  Home computer repair using duct tape and shoe laces.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  I feel sufficiently ... accomplished.  I think it competes well with the steel can/2x4/duct tape cup holder Joe's dad made for our creeper van. 

view of the top; note the residual silver duct tape peeking out

view of the bottom, featuring the support string for the side braces

Note the snazzy half hitches on the laces that allow for adjusting the angle of incline

Just another view of my masterwork

One has to shape the tape around the various edge portals

The other edge with portals handily exposed

But wait, ... what about that disc drive?  I know it doesn't work anyway, ... but still, ... it looks like she taped it shut?

No worries.  A foundation layer of tape facing upward keeps the supporting tape from sticking, but still offers a surface upon which to add the vast layers of diagonal tape strips to keep the shoe lace from shifting when the weight of the screen is applied

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dishonest Memories of homeschool days

I had to give up homeschooling before all my kids were through school.  My memory of that era, ... well, pregnancies, nursing babies, homeschooling, meals, laundry, ... I really don't remember much at all.  But I thought I remembered being an abysmal failure at homeschooling. 

Because we couldn't afford to join the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, I saved everything the kids did.  I wanted to keep proof of what we had done.

And now I'm weeding through that proof.

And throwing out all those assignments.  Math.  Spelling. Grammar.  Writing.  Handwriting.  Science.  Thinking Skills.  Book after book, binder after binder of Jeremy's work.  7 years.   Book after book, binder after binder of Matthew's work.  8 years.  Louisa's.  Seven years.  Elsie's.  Six years.  And even Clara's.  Four years.  A few of Sophie's, John's, and Stella's but not much.  The kids went into school the year John was going into first grade. 

I can't believe how much they got done.  Really.  I paged through most of the workbooks, expecting to find big chunks of incomplete work.  But no.

I have no memory of all the work they did.  Only of all the fights.  All the nagging.  All the failure.  All the sitting in the school room on Monday morning throwing together some assignment lists.  All the tripping over the ever growing piles of dirty laundry.  Joe cooking supper, because I was still busy with school.

I even had a gradebook.  I had a couple full years worth of grades entered.  For each and every assignment.  Each and every child.  Impressive. 

I am, ... stunned.  Without words.

I guess, ... I guess, ... I guess I'm not a failure after all. 

Kids! Jeremy, Matt, Louisa, Elsie, Clara, I'm sorry I only remember the hard parts of it.  I'd love to remember all those accomplishments. 

You other homeschool moms out there, don't despair.   You're likely doing much more than you think.  But save their work so that one day, you'll find out. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Building Bigger Barns: a modern parable

Remember the parable Jesus told about the rich man who had a super abundant crop?  (Luke 12:13-21.)  He had to build bigger barns to store it all.  But once he had the barns built and the harvest in, he was set.  He had his responsibilities finished so that he could simply kick back, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry," he said to himself.  But God had other plans.  God said, "Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?"

Many of my readers might already know this, but Joe has accepted a call to serve a congregation in kind of southern Minnesota.  It feels south compared to here at least.  The tentative arrangement is that we'll stay up here to get these churches through the Lenten rush.  And then shortly after Easter we'll be moving to Clara City, MN, where Joe will serve as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church. 

And so we're beginning the process of cleaning out our barns.  And, oh boy, have we built up earthly wealth.  Our barns are much fuller than they were when we moved here 12 years ago.  I feel as though God has said to us, "You fools!  What good is all this?  This spring, a move is required of you.  And then what good is all this stuff?"

Which brought me to contemplate this parable and the whole concept of material goods.  In today's world, most of us live in relative ease.  I'm not saying life is easy.  But I am saying that many of those things which cause us stress, those things with which we busy ourselves day to day, many of those things are discretionary.  We choose to do them.  Most of us are not eking our very survival from day to day.  If we're hungry we go to the cupboard.  We hit a few switches and we have food.  If the cupboard is empty, we go to the store.  Same with our clothing.  

Our basic needs are pretty easy to provide.  It's all the extras that cause the stress and work.  But we do it anyway.  And somehow, amidst all this busy lifestyle, we still have time to build up our barns.  Our home get fuller and fuller with things that we are home less and less to enjoy.  Or if we are home, we can't find them, because the house is too full.

One episode particularly yesterday made me think of the parable of the Rich Fool.   Ever since Christmas I've had this stack of Christmas wrapping paraphernalia sitting at the foot of my bed and surrounding area.  A box of neatly stacked and unused tissue paper and gift bags.  A box of refolded and stacked used gift bags.  Several gift bags of used tissue paper, in various stages of being straightened and re-folded.  

I always seem to procrastinate getting the Christmas stuff put away.  After the rush and bustle of Christmas, I'm tired.  And so it sits.  But usually I don't have this much.  In the past, in the name of being frugal, I have had a handful of used gift bags, some used gift wrap in various shapes and sizes, and perhaps, after a good salvage year, a small pile of used tissue paper to straighten out.  

But this year was different.  During my summer and fall thrift store shopping sprees, I had consciously looked for things to use to make our Christmas gift wrapping easier.  At one store, I hit the jackpot.  I had  found many gift bags for 25¢ each and several packages of unopened tissue paper.  And at various times for the fall birthdays, I had even paid full price and picked up a couple packages of brand spanking new gift wrap in pretty colors at Wal-mart and the dollar store.  So I thought I was pretty much ready.  

But just in case, one evening after an exhausting last minute shopping rush, I had the girls run into the dollar store and pick up a bunch of gift bags.  I think I gave them ten dollars and said, "Just get whatever you can get in a variety of sizes."  Wow, can a person get tons of gift bags for a dollar!  I had no idea.  Suddenly my 25¢ thrift store bags didn't seem so special.  

So I was well stocked up for the busy holiday season.  No more finding just the right size of left over paper to fit a gift.  No more putting plastic grocery bags as padding in last year's gift bags.  We we set for an easy Christmas.  

And then Joe's mom gave us more.  She had gotten a bunch of freebies from her sister who got them from someone else.  A whole large bag full of gift wrap.  

Our gift wrap barn was really big.  Bigger and bigger.  

After we Christmas, we faithfully saved all our gift bags and packaging as always.  We also had still about half or more even of what we started with that was still unused.  I felt such wealth of wrapping materials.  "Soul," said I, "You don't need to worry about getting gift wrap for many years to come.  Take your ease.  Eat, drink, and be Mary."  

But I have found that God had other plans.  God said, "You foolish girl.  What good is all that?  Guess what.  You have to move.  Are you really going to have the movers haul around four or five bags of gift wrapping stuff?"

And of course, the answer is no.

But is the parable Jesus told focused simply on the having of things?  Is it foolish to save and prepare for the future?  Is it wrong to enjoy the fruits of one's labor?

Jesus told this parable in response to someone from the crowd who asked Jesus to arbitrate a squabble over material goods, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."  The exhortation is against letting material goods be the goal, the end-all.  This listener was loving his potential inheritance more than he was loving his brother.  

But for me, the idol isn't the things that I love.  It's the security that comes with having things.  I was feeling quite smug and self-satisified about something as inane as being stocked up on gift wrap supply.  But our security, our satisfaction isn't about our own accomplishments.  It's not about the success of our harvests or size of our stockpiles.  

Jesus sums it up in His final exhortation to the crowd, "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."  We are not to seek our pleasure, security, satisfaction, or worth in those accomplishments we achieve or the wealth we attain or here on earth.  Those things come from God alone, through His Son, Jesus. 

St. Paul prays for the Ephesians that they continue to recognize and esteem the importance of this eternal wealth.  (Ephesians 1:15-21)
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. ~Ephesians 1:15-21

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Conversations upon Waking, Six and Seven year old style

"We never learned to drive on icy roads."
"Nope, just good roads."
"And just slowly and carefully."
"I dreamed that we were staying with Sharon and Sharol, and Daddy told them to drive safely  because it was bad roads, but they just zoomed anyway."
"Was it fun?"
"Yes.  It was.  But kind of scary, too."
"I know who Lana's grandkids are.  The Nelsons.  Kjerstin and Kehan, Ashlyn, Ellie, and Eli."
"And Maddie.  Maddie are her grandkids, too."
"Is.  Maddie is her grandkid."
"But Maddie has that baby, too.  Malaya.  So it's are.  They are her grandkids."
"But you can't say Maddie are.  You have to say Maddie and Malaya are.  Or Maddie is."
"Mo-om, Maddie and Malaya are Lana's Grandkids, too, right?"
Mom steps in her for a moment, "Yes, they are.  Brad and Lana are blessed with many grandkids."
"Yawning doesn't mean you're tired.  Sometimes it just means you need to stretch."
"Yeah, one time I yawned when I didn't want to sleep."
"Remember when Dad made us stay in our room because we were crabby.  And I fell asleep, but you didn't?"
"Yes.  I never fall asleep in the day."
"I sometimes do."
"When Quinn came over, you were sleeping when we got home from school."
"And we watched Frozen."
"Except you didn't see it all because you were sleeping."
"But I got up and had a snack and then watched it.  Quinn loves Frozen."
"She likes Anna.  I like Elsa better.  I like Elsa because she's pretty.  But I like Anna because she is good."
"Elsa has purple eyelids."
"Purple eyelids!?!"
"Yes, because that's how she does her makeup."