Christmas 2016

Christmas 2016

Dear friends and family,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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We are reminded once again how thankful we are for each of you, near and far, and we want to let you know our great strides towards maturity we have made 2016.

MaryKate turned a golden 7 this fall,

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and she loves piano, soccer, gymnastics, needlepoint, and misplacing her brothers’ nerf guns in her own secret hiding places. Her dream came true when she lost her first tooth this summer as our family surrounded her in cheers. This school year in first grade she has been busy making new friends and keeping up with old ones, usually in a dogpile-group-hug in the parent pick up line at the end of school every day.  We call her our easiest kid.  She eats anything except salad with dressing and cheers happily for her siblings at any sporting event…as long as she can bring her beanie boos.  

Kristiana turned 8 and began 2nd grade this fall.  

SONY DSCShe enjoys soccer, gymnastics, piano, sewing, duct tape projects, pandas, and writing poetry about her brothers and her stuffed animals. Kristiana schedules her own playdates and lets me know who we are picking up at what time.  If ever I break down and make a suggestion about her outfit or hairstyle, her preference is the opposite. 🙂 When inspired, she writes and illustrates her own stories and dedicates them to lucky family members.  The books she makes me are among my most valuable treasures.

Caleb is 9 ½ in 4th grade,

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and he loves playing flag football, having friends over for massive nerf skirmishes, and reading star wars comics.  He doesn’t always love playing piano and cello, but he sounds great on both of them, and frozen yogurt dates with mom still motivate his practice.  He displays his highest form of art on his desk and shelves of his room: original lego designs.  When he grows up he wants to be either “a really good math teacher like Mr. Bush” or “a lego master-builder” who designs the creations in front of the lego store at Mall of America.

Gabriel turned 11 this fall and is in 5th grade,

SONY DSC his last year in elementary school.  He tried out tackle football this fall playing defensive end for his team, and there is no end in sight.  Gabe also loves reading adventure series, flipping water bottles, dabbing, inviting friends over for nerf battles, and cooking pancakes for the family on Sunday morning.  Just when I am content with our google background, he changes it to Darth Vader.  Over a good snack after school, Gabe still tells me all his highs and lows and lots of details in between.  Unfortunately he now notices when I wear my Minnesota sweatshirt three days in a row.  He is readier than we are for middle school.

Then we have Batgirl and Panda, SONY DSCour feline family members who sometimes get along and sometimes fight like cats.  We squirt them in the face with water when they fight, and we give them treats when they don’t even deserve it.  Our kids now regularly experience the heartache of “babies” who don’t get along.  But they agree, the cuddles and the cuteness are worth it. SONY DSC

Bjorn turned older and handsomer, and the students at Patrick Henry High School greet him with special handshakes and “‘sup, Doc?” He works hard every day spreading lots of grace.  So much grace that we celebrate 15 years of marriage in January.  img_7392 This adventure only gets better. Apart from our family get togethers this summer, in which we gained a new brother:

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…Bjorn took our family to the next level of camping (not to be confused with glamping)–Boundary Waters in extreme wind,

Rocky Mountain National Park outside of Estes Park, CO,

and North Shore boulder-hopping along Lake Superior with friends.

 Our hearts are fuller from the beauty and we are pouring over our map, strategizing our next summer.

I don’t do special handshakes yet, but Kristiana and I have a few of our own steps to “Cheap Thrills.”  Don’t ask, because we’ll never show you.  A few of my greatest joys this year have come from hiking new trails with our family, eating food my kids have made themselves, reading great literature with students at school, and pondering new questions about God’s Story together with kids at church. I am still a child too, seeking the Kingdom of God and what it means to be a part of it.

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The Kingdom of God is a seed, a grain of wheat; the Kingdom of God is a treasure in a field, it’s leaven in the bread, it’s a feast and a wedding and a party, it’s the forever way…the people of God are salt and light, a city on a hill.  Kingdom of God people stay when everyone else leaves…The people of God love, they push back the darkness together, they freely give honor and dignity.  They make friends.  The people of God’s Kingdom come back.  They learn before they  teach, they listen, and they stay.  I’m learning to stay.  I’m learning to listen…Taste and see: we are invited to the God-with-us life.  In co-creation with the Creator, you’re a namer, a maker, an altar builder, a lifter up…and you are a pilgrim, a disciple, made in the image of God; you are the one who walks with God without shame.

–Sarah Bessey, “Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith”

Let’s keep wondering and listening and loving and hoping. Let’s keep entering into the mystery of Christmas:  God has come to live with us.  Let’s give glory to the newborn King who was and is and is to come.  May God be with you, before you, behind you, beneath you, above you, on your right, on your left, when you lie down, when you sit down and when you arise in 2017.

Love, joy, peace, hugs,

The Lundgren Family

Bjorn, Sarah, Gabe, Caleb, Kristiana, and MaryKate

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Merry Christmas 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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We are thankful each of you are part of our community near and far and inbetween.  We are all another year older in our journey, and we wanted to recount to you the ways we have matured and immatured, for better or for worse, and more importantly, how God has sustained us in 2015.

MaryKate…

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…turned 6 in November and eagerly began kindergarten this fall.  She loves purple, sparkles, playing the piano and singing, unicorns, dressing up as a purple ninja…

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playing soccer goalie…

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and running to her brothers’ room and throwing stuffed animals at them after she has already been tucked in.  Her favorite books are “Piggie and Gerald” and she proudly reads them to me and Bjorn before she puts us to bed.

Kristiana…

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…turned 7 in September and is in 1st grade.  She recently lost her first upper tooth and enjoys her new pirate look.   Her favorite color changes every day, and her outfits never match on purpose.  Playing the piano…

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climbing the high rope in gymnastics…

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and writing stories about her beanie boos are just a few of her favorite things.  

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Her laughter is still contagious, and she is still our best consumer of spinach.

Caleb…

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…is 8-and-a-half and a 3rd grader.  He enjoys soccer…

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flag football…

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basketball, piano…

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and riding his bike over dangerous homemade bike jumps in the driveway.  But most of all he enjoys legos.

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  His desktop is not so much a place to sit and write as it is a display case for his latest construction, currently The Lion Palace.  Allowing Caleb to pour his own syrup over his pancakes is always a bad idea.  But our cat, Batgirl, prefers Caleb as her most desired cuddle buddy and often sleeps at his feet.IMG_2747

Gabriel…

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(Gabe)…turned 10 in October and is in 4th Grade.  He enjoys soccer, flag football, basketball…

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cello…12366288_10100643083013919_2633634368281060591_n piano, boucing on his pogo stick up and down our front steps…

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and beating Bjorn at their daily pull-up count.  Gabe loves mystery and adventure novels and regularly rereads The Hobbit.  He joined the school orchestra and now plucks away at the Pachelbel Cannon in D.  When presented a good snack when he comes home from school, he eagerly verbally processes the most important parts of his day.  So I never miss a snack time with Gabriel.

Bjorn and I said goodbye to three beloved grandparents this year.  My dear Ralphy…

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Bjorn’s Grandpa Bjork…

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… and his Grandma Lundgren.

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We are thankful for their presence throughout our lives, for the way they loved us, and for their example of gracefully crossing the finish line into the presence of God.  We will keep telling their stories to our children.  

We also have wiped up most of the dust from our kitchen remodel and are baking cookies again.  11229685_10100610266293889_5736299587023586805_nBecause life is always better with cookies.

Bjorn is still gentle and strong and rugged.  

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He now uses his gifts during work hours with the students and staff of Patrick Henry High School in North Minneapolis.  

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With all his other hours he coaches 3rd-5th grade flag football…

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plays SuperDaddy (this is an actual game our girls created just for Bjorn) fixes stuff that breaks, masterminds our garden, and flips perfect pancakes.  When the season is right, he’d rather be camping on the North Shore.  

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I love him more every day.  As Kristiana said just the other day, “Mommy, I’m so glad you married the man I love the most.”  Me too, babe.

I, Sarah, am in awe of God’s grace and faithfulness…

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…and I am thankful for more than I can count.  I get to be mommy to the most precious treasures of my life.  

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IMG_3440I get to be the one who makes the lunches and braids the hair and wipes the glasses and exclaims over the artwork.  I get to be the piano practice helper and the designated syrup monitor on pancake Sunday.  I get to teach children along with many friends at Church of the Redeemer.  _DSC0032 I get to teach a literacy class with 2nd graders at a neighborhood elementary school. 5555_10100644978779789_4575736028167757093_n I get to hike next to Bjorn and choose the best spots to set up our tent.  

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When I mess things up, I get to be forgiven.  I am the one Jesus loves.   May we each claim this promise, and may we wait in hope to celebrate the miracle of God come to live with us.

“They knelt on the dirt floor.  They had heard about this Promised Child and now he was here.  Heaven’s Son.  The Maker of the Stars.  A baby sleeping in his mother’s arms.  This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night.  A Light to light up the whole world.  Chasing away darkness.  Helping people to see.  And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.”  –The Jesus Storybook Bible

May God be with you, before you, behind you, beneath you, above you, on your right, on your left, when you lie down, when you sit down and when you arise in 2016.

Love, joy, peace, and hugs,

The Lundgren Family

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Life, Love, and a Kitchen Remodel

It’s all in the journey, we are learning.  After about a year of debating when timing would be right, drawing plans on graph paper, pinteresting, drawing more plans, and window shopping for materials, Bjorn and I decided there is no better time than now…to build ourselves a new kitchen. We have loved this kitchen since moving in 2 weeks before Kristiana was born.  It first looked like this:

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And when I was 9 months pregnant with Kristiana, Bjorn’s dad asked what one house project he could work on that would mean a lot to me.  I asked if he would paint our cabinets white.  He immediately began the arduous task, probably putting in 100 hours of work.  I will never forget that. 🙂 Before we met Kristiana, our kitchen became white and wipeable.  It has been well loved.

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCWe painted a happy birthday sign on the soffet for Kristiana’s 6th birthday, just before the demo.SONY DSC  Bjorn ordered a dumpster.  It was delivered in the middle of breakfast at 7:40 a.m. on Sept. 23. IMG_2078 Thus began our biggest and messiest project yet.SONY DSC

The demo was very fulfilling for Bjorn, and very horrific for me.  IMG_2087 SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCIt lasted a few days. There was rubble.  SONY DSCSONY DSC There were dust clouds.  And there is no joke about the dust clouds. SONY DSC(This was after I had already dusted!)  And there was still more rubble.  My cooking area became the deck.  SONY DSCUntil just before Kristiana’s birthday when Bjorn heroically hooked up our stove in the mudroom.  SONY DSCJust in time to make Kristiana’s cake.SONY DSC

Our kitchen for now is spread throughout the house: fridge in dining room, bookshelves are the pantry, stove in the mudroom, microwave in the garage.  Dishes are done in the bathtub. The kids have shown great sportsmanship and sportsladyship.  Even Batgirl enjoys the excitement…

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She finds her hidouts when she hears power tools and comes out when the noise lets down.

We have access to everything, it’s just not all at our fingertips.  There is always lagtime, and there is no app for cleaning up the mess.  I have not forgotten my Fresnillan friends, sweeping floors made of dirt, reaching up to the extension chord hanging from the ceiling to plug in the blender, holding it steady the middle of the living room, and pulling down a blender full of fresh salsa.  We can live with inconvenience.  Getting ready just takes a little longer now.  Cita and Pappy and Uncle David have come to help out already. SONY DSC

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Auntie Mary is in recovery, thanks be to God.  SONY DSCSoccer and football games, birthday parties, and playdates keep happening amidst our chaotic project.  Bjorn explains to the kids, we knocked down our lego castle, and now we are building it back in a new way, piece by piece. 🙂

Here’s the step by step, but please no one else try this at home without careful consideration and reconsideration! First came out the half wall.  IMG_1962Next came the demo of our two walls encasing our old kitchen.  SONY DSCIn which I became emotional watching my kitchen torn down with a crowbar.

Next came a lot of rubble clean up.  10,000 pounds of rubble carried to our dumpster.  SONY DSC SONY DSCAnd then even more clean-up.  One Sat. night Bjorn and I stayed up until 2am getting rid of the rubble so our kids could once again walk freely in our house. SONY DSC Then wiring, can-lights in living dining room in which Bjorn threaded wires through the ceiling…SONY DSC SONY DSC

SONY DSCtile decisions…IMG_1755more clean-up, more plumbing…

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And after that, still more wiring.

SONY DSCBjorn is my hero.  You might think he didn’t get enough science fair electrical experiements as an elementary student.  He frequently bids us all watch as a light bulb turns on…not by a switch..but when he touches two live wires hanging out of the box.

We are living outside the box right now.  And we call it glamping.

Next came posts and beam across supporting wall…

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with the help of Uncle David…

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more wiring, more tile decisions…IMG_2218laying the subfloor…SONY DSC SONY DSC

cutting the new window opening…SONY DSC SONY DSCpulling out the old window…SONY DSC throwing footballs from the kitchen to the brother awaiting the pass in the backyard…SONY DSC finalizing our kitchen design… photo-66and then doubting every decision we made. Suppose the light looks a bit unbalanced with the new window cuts?  Should we patch up that window opening and cut out another one in the other corner? Bjorn said moving the window would have taken 3 more weeks.  He kissed me when I told him fine we could just leave it. And I get to paint the island the color of my choosing. 🙂 Kitchen Remodel is a test of compromise and a reminder of our marriage vows.  Through thick and through thin, through dust clouds and through demo rubble, through can lights dim or bright, through windows here or there….we will with God’s help.

Last weekend Bjorn built a mock kitchen island out of plywood to help us decide on placement and shape of the countertop…SONY DSC I have pinterested thousands of ideas.  Everything is just so pinteresting.

The boys have helped screwing in the thousands of screws for the subfloor.  SONY DSC SONY DSCAnd helping with backsplash design…

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The girls have helped by decorating the subfloor. SONY DSC SONY DSC And other rough studs.SONY DSC  You only have exposed subfloor once…

And here we are now.  SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSCWe have no deadlines.  We have jobs other than kitchen renovation. This party will continue amidst the mayhem.  We have dined on the deck.  We have dined in the basement.  We have hope that someday we will once again dine in our kitchen.  We have had a number of generous invitations to friends’ houses.  And thoughtful friends stopping by with meals. Bjorn’s mom asks for leftovers from any dinner party she attends…and brings them loyally to us.  And we humbly accept.

SONY DSCAnd when we get tired of being flexible, we remind everyone that this is their one chance in life to poke a light saber through the basement ceiling…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCGod bless this mess… 🙂

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Back to School Fall 2014

We held onto summer long as we could…SONY DSC SONY DSCbut somehow the fall always crashes into us around the corner… SONY DSC

We met our new teachers…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC(Caleb’s student teacher was once a student in Bjorn’s 9th grade science class.) 🙂
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We made it to school on time the first day, bright and eager and ready.  Whew!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

And we even spiffed up our nails with Auntie Mary after school the first day…

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This year we have 3 drop-off and pick-up locations.  SONY DSC SONY DSCEven including our buses, this year it is taking a village to wrangle our children over to the right pasture.  We have an Arden Hills Preschool Carpool.  SONY DSCAnd we have new friends a few streets over for kindergarten half-day carpool pickup.  My pick-up rotations are strategically mapped out weekly on an excel spreadsheet.  Or maybe I just text everyone the night before to make sure.  So far in the second week, kids are getting where they need to go, and more than that, they are smiling as we part.  Still it’s never easy to say goodbye.SONY DSC

Best coming-home-from-school quotes so far:

Kristiana: “I met a new friend, his name was Oliver, and he was wearing a green shirt and his favorite color was green.  And my favorite color is yellow, but tomorrow it will be purple.”

Caleb: “I saw Vince in the bathroom and we were both singing “Haul Away Joe.”

Bjorn: But were you dilly dallying in the bathroom or were you multitasking?

Caleb: We were multitasking.

Gabriel: Gabe is my name at school now.

Me: Do you want Gabe to be your name at school, or is that just what people call you?

Gabriel:  That’s what I say they can call me.

Me: Great.  But can I still call you Gabriel?

Gabriel: Sure, Mommy.  🙂

MaryKate also reports that she enjoys preschool with her Arden Hills carpool.

I’ve been adding verses to Okee Dokee Brother’s “Baby Mine”.  This one I’ve been singing to the kids a lot:

Here comes the yellow bus now, baby, mine.

It’s your turn to hop on now, baby mine.

And I’m wavin’ by the door, but you’re not lookin’ this way anymore,

So proud of you my darlin’, baby mine.

You’ll always be my darlin’, baby mine.SONY DSC

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Camping not Glamping

Last month we went camping, not glamping. We explained the difference to our kids: no running water, gathering our own firewood, and BIF’s… and they agreed, we definitely camped, not glamped.  First we carted-in at Split Rock State Park, along the North Shore of Lake Superior.SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC…which happens to be the biggest lake in the world, and contains 10% of the planet’s fresh water.  Minnesotans are pretty proud of that.  Maybe I’m proud too.

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SONY DSCCaleb was so inspired by the North Shore beauty, that he sketched a North Shore sunset…

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…that I will keep forever, as long as I can remember where I stashed it.  Caleb also has a knack for finding the best hiking sticks that quickly become the bribe and envy of all. 🙂

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We waded by Baptism River…

SONY DSC SONY DSCand I fell in love with this flower.  Closest Minnesota version of a bluebonnet.  A Lupine.

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We hung out where the river meets Superior.

SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCFootballs were passed…

SONY DSC...and trails were hiked.SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCWe checked out Temperance River in another meeting with Superior…

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Finally we hit the Gun Flint Trail up to Hungry Jack Outfitters.  

SONY DSCWhere Hungry Jack loaned us a 4-person canoe…which we fudged for six.SONY DSC We sang our own version of the Okee Dokee Brothers: Can you canoe, on a little boat built for six? Can you canoe, we’ll show you all our camping tricks!SONY DSCWe put in at Hungry Jack Lake, and survived 3 gruelling portages… through Bearskin Lake, Duncan Lake to Rose Lake.  SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC

At the end of the Stairway Portage, Caleb informed us there were 132 steps. 

SONY DSCWe hit Canada and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.  SONY DSCSONY DSCWe did this last summer, but only for a day trip.  This time we stayed and basked in the sun and the mosquitoes.  We went through nearly 2 bottles of bug spray, and we lived off of grub from the food pack.  From which I was sore from carrying for a good couple weeks.  SONY DSCBjorn still looks really good carrying a canoe.SONY DSC And we both still love wilderness adventure.  And as turns out, if you tell 4 kids there is nothing more glamourous than wilderness camping…they begin to believe this too. 🙂 SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC(Find and circle the hidden BIF in this picture.)

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And as long as we were in Grand Marais, we couldn’t pass up exploring Artist’s Point…

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and where MaryKate collected “Rock Cousins”…

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Cali 2014

Cita and Pappy let us know it was time for a California visit.  And it did not take any convincing on our part.  They along with Uncle David rolled out all their red carpets and flipped us pancakes every morning (Me: Mom, we don’t need pancakes every morning! Cita: But these are MY grandchildren, and I can feed them pancakes every morning if I want to!) No one argues with Cita standing in front of a griddle. SONY DSC Pappy even showed us all his favorite youtubes every morning during pancakes.  SONY DSC

And then hung out at “the close park…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

One of Pappy’s favorite things to do is take a picture when everyone is eating…  🙂SONY DSC

 

And then there was the beach…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

and the golden hills…SONY DSC SONY DSC

and sharp dangerous rocks…SONY DSC SONY DSC

We took walks to the nearby convent…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

and took some quiet reading timeSONY DSC SONY DSC

And there were more beaches…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

…where there is always a good place to sit and think…
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We hung out with friends…SONY DSC

And Cita and Pappy took us to the San José Zoo…SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

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And somewhere in there some mountain men snuck away to summit Half Dome Rock in Yosemite…

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And there were still more beaches…SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

(Downtown Santa Cruz)SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

We hit up the Big Basin Redwoods State Park…SONY DSC SONY DSC

Where we felt very small…SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSC

but tough…
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We miss these views back in Minnesota…SONY DSC

Bjorn: Are you just taking pictures, or are you going to chase after them and make sure there’s no drop-off?

Me: But it’s such a great picture! (I knew there was no drop-off.) 🙂

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But most of all we miss the people we love…SONY DSC

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SONY DSCSONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”

I Corinthians 13

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Graduation Situation

This weekend we had a graduate to celebrate.  We began with a backyard celebration.  Bjorn cut his cake…

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and I didn’t even smear any on his face like I did on our wedding day.  I’ve matured so much.  🙂

More importantly, we had the honor of thanking many who encouraged and supported our family in this endeavor.

The kids and I did a little show in honor of the graduate.  This kids told their best “knock knocks”, they danced a little dance…

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and I sang Bjorn a little song…and made him put on his hat for all to behold.

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I am proud that Bjorn was surprised. 🙂

Our girls changed outfits only 6 times during the party and ended in swimsuits dancing on the deck over ice.  Now that the natural ice has melted, we may as well spread out the ice from the coolers to skate on…DSC00490

Sunday, Bjorn walked the stage at Bethel University. DSC00499 DSC00542 All I have to say about the ceremony, is…do they seriously expect the biggest fans of the doctoral graduates to sit in silence while their hero gets a big blue silky scarf wrapped around them from behind??  Bjorn noticed the kids and I did not follow the rules.  But neither did his parents.

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Sometimes, you just have to go with the spirit of the law…and make your own judgement call. 🙂

First he was hooded.

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Next he was bunny-earred.  DSC00581 DSC00583 DSC00582

And then we bribed the kids to smile.DSC00565

And I got to stand next to this handsome Doctor of Educational Leadership in his beret.  DSC00571

along with the whole fan club…

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The most whining usually comes from Bjorn when it comes to pictures.  But he’s the doctor, so he got to call time on his big day.

Suddenly he realized he would save even more time if he returned his glorious beret and robe to the Bethel bookstore that very moment.  I reminded him he might want to take more pictures in his hat at least for a few more days.  He might even want to wear it on a date.  He said his Bethel baseball cap would work just fine for any occasion.  And he had definitely worn the beret long enough. 🙂

And so we returned the fancy hat and gown to the bookstore that very moment.  But not before the kids each got a turn.DSC00592 DSC00596 DSC00597 DSC00599

And now Dr. Bjorn will continue doing what he loves.  I am very proud.  And thankful. That God’s faithfulness is great and that His mercy is new.

Next up in a graduation situation is Kristiana.  From preschool. Tomorrow.

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