Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I know, it's been ages since we blogged... so... about 2 weeks ago, we received 11 inches of snow. It was amazing... and beautiful, and gave just about everyone a 2 day snow vacation. The fun parts of the blowing snow gave us 5 foot drifts along the south wall of our house and packed the snow with about a 6 foot radius around the mailbox. Our mailman literally climbed up the mountain to give us mail. That lasted a day or so; and then he just put it into the church's box. It was fun times!
So, last weekend, we have several days of high 30s and 40 degrees... so some of it melted, the snow piles just condensed...
And that brings us to today... Snowfall! We are expected to get another 10-18 inches by Christmas night... yes, snowing through Christmas. It's beautiful... fluffy and way fun to sit inside and watch...
And we love our snow removal crew from church... Hats are continually off for B, R and P. For your snowblowers, snowplows, snow shovels and other many tools that you love to use on big projects!
A very Merry Christmas to each of you! Blessed holidays, and safe travels!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Return from Sweden

So, we didn't post that we were going on the trip; and we didn't blog our way through the Lutheran homeland, but now that we're home... I'd love to tell you about it! S is still sifting through the 800 photos, for our presentation.
We arrived in Stockholm on a Wednesday afternoon, and jumped on the express X2000 train to Goteborg. Arriving after dark, and after a full day of travel, we found the Kville Hostel, with our beds awaiting us.
We spent Thursday and Friday morning in Goteborg; enjoying the Volvo plant, the City Museum, lots of people watching, wandering through the streets to enjoy the people and absorb as much as we could. We loved the mass transportation nagivations... Goteborg has trains, light rain, trolleys, old trolleys, newer trollies, busses, older busses... it was limitless!
Friday, we hopped on the SJ (Swedish Train System), and were on our way down to Kalmar to catch up with L & G. We found L immediately upon departing the train. (Oh, a bit of advice... even though it adds to the adventure, we recommend getting reservations on all train rides, even if they don't make you... it could relieve any stress or worry that you'll loose your seat).
L immediately whisked us off to visit a friend of his, who is the Priest of the Kalmar Cathedral, which is under a $1.7 Billion renovation... it's amazing!!! And that was just the first of many cathedrals for us to enjoy. We headed from Kalmar to Oskarshamn, along a great road with many stories... and L filled us in with as many as he could tell us!
Our housing in Oskarshamn was at the elderly living community, a flat in the community building, which was fabulous. L & G stocked the fridge with more than enough for our breakfasts and snacks. We took a look around and then joined L & G for dinner at their home. G created an amazing chicken dish that was out of this world, and filled us with a fruit and creme dessert.
Saturday morning, G took us down to the Folkaskola to meet S-G and learn more about the schooling of future Church Musicians. It was a delightful morning. We rejoined G & L, and were off on our whirlwind tour of the Vaxjo region... first, we stopped into a village market, sampling Elk jerky, more Swedish kaffe, smelling the Sweet Sugar (Cotton Candy) and absorbing more sights, sounds and smells of Sweden. Then, it was to Orreforrs Glass Factory! Kosta Boda is another factory in the area... the Kingdom of Glass region! We thought long and hard about what we did purchase... making sure what would travel well, and mean something. Cannot report what the details are... as gifts have not been distributed!
We lunched at the buffe at the town cafe, Thai and WeinerSchnitzel... delicious combination! After lunch, we headed to Vaxjo, to see the cathedral, and visit the Immigrants Museum. Although neither S or I are of Swedish decent, it was fascinating to read more about how they came over... and where they landed... (beside Minnesota!) They went to New York; Austin, Texas; Minnesota and Chicago. SO much Lutheran history. We met a fascinating couple who were in town as a part of the Chicago delegation for the Olympic bid announcement in Copenhagen later that week.
We headed back through a beautiful road to Oskarshamn. A quick nap, we were heading downtown Oskarshamn to have dinner with L, G and their dear friend, A. A great night of food, fellowship and creating amazing friendships.
Sunday was a highlight... an amazing highlight... S participated in worship as a co-communicant. Worship was amazing. I know, you'll read that word a lot. Mass was high, church was full, communion was powerful and even though it was in Swedish, we both still knew what was going on and were able to participate. It's amazing how quickly you catch on, and S and I both participated in English as we were able.
Sunday buffe was at L & G's home. It was formerly the rectory, but after being at the parish for 25 years, they bought the home from the church; as L hopes to retire in the near future; and G is tired of moving! :) Bless her!
We sat with a young member of the parish, the local Methodist priest and a handful of other church members. Every so often, L & G host 30 or so church members at their house for Sunday Buffe. It was a lovely meal and learned more about Sweden, and shared more about Hastings and Nebraska.
We were given a bit of time to rest, and then it was off to another small village, to see more amazing church architecture and relics inside a sleepy community. It continually baffled us that most of these churches were built in the 16 and 17th centuries... and have altars and altar pieces that date back then as well... the woodwork, artistry and craftmanship is amazing.
Monday was a early morning of being packed, eating breakfast and heading to the bus stop to catch our 5 hour bus ride to Stockholm.
It was a dreary, rainy day... and the perfect day to spend on the bus. Only main problem was that we didn't pack a lunch; so 5 hours of a bus and hunger made us not very pretty at the end. We arrived safely in Stockholm, hoped off the bus and 'poof' there was my dear friend, A, waiting for us! Quick introductions and we were off in the car and getting out of Stockholm, before traffic stacked up. Now, this road trip did involve a quick stop at McDonald's, for a late lunch. It was the easiest thing for us to communicate that we'd like to have. We headed up to Uppsala, dumped our stuff off at the house; and then headed up to the Uppsala Castle, which over look the Linneaus Gardens. Linneaus was the scientist to create the 2 Latin word system for all flora and fauna. The Uppsala Castle is one of the highest points in Uppsala, creating an amazing view... with the maple, oak and birch trees changing colors, it was priceless! We then trodded down to the Uppsala Cathedral... the granddaddy of them all. The most amazing church... which can be put on the list with Notre Dame, St. Peter's Basilica, Heidelberg Cathedral... amazing, and more amazing to realize that A can look out on it every day from his house... yes, we were staying at the Archbishops Mansion... And then, we went to Gamla Uppsala, where the ancient ruins are, and the remainder of the original Uppsala Cathedral, where what is standing is the East wing, which is still huge! One can imagine how large the original cathedral was... which was built in the 1500s. Then, we ran out to his sister's house... she and her husband are both pastors, and have a parish in the country. His brother in law showed up his parish, which is a small stone church. They have been there for 19 years, as his sister is a Church Historian, and they have raised their children in a great barn-style rectory. They also have a fantastic little kitten which reminded us of Tucker... he even let me hold him!
His lovely bride, K would be in late that evening, so the three of us found a great Italian restaurant for dinner... and then headed back to find K home, and spent time just catching up and chatting.
Tuesday, we had just a bit of A's morning, before he headed off on a business trip... we met his staff at the Sverige Kirke (Church of Sweden) office. We also went to Gottlunda, an area outside of the sprawl of Uppsala that has become the gathering area for immigrants arriving to Sweden. We met the local minister, and toured their 1970's architecture church. It was very modern, and something closer to what we would experience in the US. We walked around the large apartment buildings, which have been a great resource for the immigrants to create their new lives in. The Middle East is one of the areas to which the influx is arriving from.
A headed off to the airport around noon, so we took in lunch at the Church office cafeteria (catered by Sodexho!), and then set out to explore Uppsala... the Gustavanium Museum, more time in the Cathedral, walking the streets and headed out to the WORLDS LARGEST IKEA store!!! It was heaven... but all we bought were a bag of AUTHENTIC Swedish Fish and a bag of potato chips... and had a snack while we were in the store...
K fixed a delicious meal of marinated Roast Beef with vegetables; and couscous, and lots of tea!
Wednesday, we set out on our own to Stockholm, taking in the Castle, checking out the Royal Treasures, the State Apartments and watching the Royal Band, during the changing of the guards... walked down to the ferries and went to the Vasa Museum. It was amazing. The ship was built in the 1600's, and sunk on it's maiden voyage... didn't make it out of the bay; the sails were too tall and it tipped over... and it was brought up in 1960s... and has been restored to an amazing amount. After the museum, and an unfriendly bus driver, we walked back to Central Station... a lovely walk along the river and came upon the Swedish Souvenier store... gathered a few items, happened to be the exact amount of paper currency we had left, so we knew it was time to go home.
We got back to Uppsala in the later evening, going back through the shopping district and getting late to the house, to warm up Borch and dig into K's homemade bread. And to pack...
We packed up our items... filled up our extra backpack with souveniers... got a good night's rest... and then headed to the train station Thursday morning by 7 a.m.
Got to the Arlanda airport with lots of time, had a quick flight to London Heathrow Airport... and then onto our 777 flight back to the states... 8 hours later, we were in Chicago... for 6 1/2 hour lay-over... partially on purpose, partially due to the weather delay... we arrived in Omaha at 12:00 a.m. and onto the hotel for a good night's sleep! It was a 26 hour day of travel for us.

That's my recap... we'll be sure to let you know when we put our presentation together!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

So, summer is wrapping up. And according to the Weather Service, it was the 7th Coolest Summer on Record for Hastings. 17 days with weather over 90 degrees. I tell you, a bit different from Texas or North Carolina!
Students headed back to school about 2 weeks ago, which brings the traffic back around our house at Hastings High School, and the marching band is back in session at 6:30 a.m. each school day. It works as a great alarm clock for us!
Church kicked off the school year with a carnival last Sunday; which included throwing pies at MJ and S. Each received 2 pies in their face, courtesy of adults and youth from the church. Folks really enjoyed the craze.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mid-Summer Review

I know... it's been a while. So, let me attempt to recap the past 6 weeks.
Boating with M & J on the Fremont Lakes, Synod Assembly, C's ordination in Lincoln, Pampered Chef Bridal Shower in Ainsworth for H, Cottonwood Festival in Hastings, L&R wedding in Hastings, 4th of July with the family in Hildreth and Hastings, Pampered Chef Bridal SHower for L in Hastings, Hastings Public Library Book Sale, LCGS Ice Cream Social and then this weekend, we are escaping to Johnson Lake for 36 hours of R & R for the rest of the summer's chaos.
Upcoming events: LCGS Canoe Trip to Valentine, S goes to Texas, Byrne family arrives in Nebraska, Kool-Aid Days, back to school, Labor Day weekend... pretty much, that sums up the rest of the summer.

I'm feverishly looking for volunteers for Kool-Aid Days... August 14-16th. Should be a blast. Can't wait to participate... as S and I haven't been in town long enough to have attended one, yet! And yes, somehow, I found myself on the planning team. How'd that happen?

The house is going well... Tucker is enjoying the cool weather, playing with his friends (squirrels, birds and anythign else that comes by). We're loving the cool weather for baseball games of our kids, bike rides with S & K, and a few trips to the lakes for boating and watercraft recreation.

4th of July was great... The family all gathered to celebrate S, P, and R's birthdays as well as for S's sending... she deploys July 22, for Qatar for approximately 6 months. I know... she's been gone for longer; but that was restationing in Germany... no vacationing for us to this location!

Other news... my step-brother and his wife, S & A are expecting their first child in December. So, we'll finally obtain Aunt status... going to have to take it when I can get it!

We had a new family join LCGS and they are our age and have been lifesavers for me, for having someone to play with. They live just 6 blocks away and S is currently unemployed until school starts back for K... so the three of us have had great times on our bikes, exploring the city. Lots in common and then again, somedays, nothing in common which makes it fun!

My best friend's family will repatriot to Houston next week... they've spent the last year in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

M & S head to New Orleans next week for the National Youth Gathering, held by the ELCA on a triannual basis... good times for 36,000 youth!

Not much else. Just want you to know that we're still alive!

Countdown to Sweden: approximately 9 weeks!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Week In Review

Monday morning, I received an email from S... "Call me before I get to GI, J & J have news." Ok, that was enough for me to dial RIGHT AWAY! J & J P... S's seminary roommate and his wife were heading from Rochester, MN to Colorado/Utah for 10 or so days of vacation and a quick outdoor class for the wife... and I-80 was the only way from Point A to B... thus, they would be coming through... tentatively, at 1 a.m. on Wednesday; staying till 7 a.m. and then heading back to the open road.
They got in about 3:30 a.m., we chatted for a bit, then put them to sleep for a long nap and before shooing them west, we went to The Garden Cafe for breakfast. That was a first for all of us... delightful to see them, briefly catch up, show them our world (attempt to recruit them) and wish them well on their journey.
Somehow we made it through the workday, then were treated to a wonderful evening outdoors with friends CJKH & JH and other choir members for dinner, conversation and pure enjoyment of the outdoors... we had a few days of high 80s, so the weather was just perfect.
Then... the day wasn't over... I checked my facebook and discovered that I will be an Aunt! My step-brother S and his wife, A, are expecting the first grandchild in late 2009. We wish them a very safe pregnancy and wonderful parenting!
Our Memorial Day weekend will be slow, by choice; but relaxing... we're gearing up for a very busy June, with excitement every weekend!
Not much else to report... plants are growing, the sun is staying out later and later (to which we are very glad) and life continues to be good!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Vacation vs vacation

S sets out tomorrow for a week's vacation in the Fresno, California area with dear friends: E, J, A & M. J and I are classmates from jr. high; and their children are our God-Children. One of those "if anything happens to us, the kids are going to you" arrangements. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have them in our lives; but I do pray every day that E & J aren't taken from them!
Now... S has gone on vaca by himself before... back to North Carolina; but he hasn't taken a vacation to visit my friends, without me. I chose to not go, it was my choice to save my meager vacation time; for our big trip to Sweden in the Fall. But it's kind of a downer, to know he's flying out to see them; and I won't be going along. And believe me, this concept of vacationing alone is perplexing to our church members.
But I, too, will be on vacation. Without S home, I don't have to cook real meals (real implies meat is involved); I can get lots of cleaning done (steam cleaning the carpets is Goal #1), have the bed all to myself and not turn the TV to Headline News... I have full control over the remote! I will escape to my mother's for the weekend, as it is Mother's Day on Sunday; and I have meetings, work and other events to fill part of the calendar...
And it bodes well for us to have a vacation from each other... we usually are apart each summer for several weeks, and this summer isn't filling up with the usual escapes... so, this will be good!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sweden in the Fall

I know, it's not as famous as The Netherlands or Paris in the Spring; but it's what's going to work for us!
So... then you ask, Sweden? That's a logical destination location for folks of Germanic and English ancestory... everyone flocks to Sweden. It's the #1 Vacation spot for US Americans. I know... my sarcasm is oozing.
So... here's why... Spring of '97, C was working in Chicago at the Lutheran Seminary (LSTC), when a group of 30 Swedish pastors came over to see how the ELCA was run and how the Lutheran tradition had evolved from its Swedish roots. The Church of Sweden would be separating from the government in 2000; and they wanted to see how a church functions, not being controlled by the government. And C, not native in Swedish dialect, history or anything of sort more than visiting Lindsborg, KS; was given the task to be the group's tour guide for 10 days.
Now, as many of you know, C is known for "meet you once, friend for life" kind of person. She has maintained contact with the leader of the group, A; and the coordinator for the '97 trip, L. Coincidentally, A has become the ArchBishop of Sweden in that time and currently lives in Uppsala. L is still in the region of Vaxjo.
C also had a dear friend during her Washington Semester, P, who is a upper-grades teacher in Karlstad. So... hopefully, we'll make those three main area stops and spend time with them all.
10 Days in Sweden (plus or minus a few hours of travel!)
We're very excited, as we told ourselves that we do need to get a trip in before we have children, that requires passports. And this one definitely fits the bill!