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22 Nov
It’s official.  So official that it has its own hashtag in the twitter-verse.
Year six.  Here we go.  Those born on December 8th [my 18 year old cousin, Connor, and I share the same birthday] are matching their baking and creative skills against one another once again.  Any and everything more you want to know about this year’s bake-off can be found in the following photos of my iphone screen:

thankful on paper [2].

10 Nov
It’s time to be thankful again.  Here we go.
It’s quite possible today’s thank you note recipients will read this blog before the card shows up in their mailbox.  I really should send my notes out on Tuesday instead of Wednesday …
Today, I am incredibly thankful for Grandpa Bob and Grandma Julie.  [Not to leave out dear Grandpa Sid.  I’m thankful for him too.  I sent him a letter last week about lutefisk.  It’s his favorite.  Geeps is always one for a good story and tales of his life growing up.  And he made me a coat rack and lazy suzan for my spices in my cupboard.  He’s pretty handy.]
I started to write the thank you note and quickly found that the list of things for which to thank them was too long to fit in the card.  They helped me move and they gave me a gnome for my new place.  They’re super supportive of my call into ministry. They took me out for Chinese.  Grandma sends me greeting cards for every major holiday, and always invites me to her knitting coffee group when I’m home.  I bet Grandpa would even be willing to help me make this.  [*wink*]
I especially feel like Grandma and I bonded this past summer.  I was home, jobless and – most of the time – bored.  I would stop by in town often and we would have weekly – if not twice or three times a week – phone conversations.  I could normally call it when the phone rang and I hadn’t talked to her for a couple days – it’s Grandma Julie!  There were a couple times we caught up on life for well over a half hour.  
They’re pretty awesome as far as grandparents go, along with Grandpa Sid on the right.  [Grandma will tell me she hates this photo.  Sorry, Grandma.]

It’s time.

1 Nov

Last year I participated in this thankful blogging effort with my DB [Dancing Banana] friend, Jen at After the Chapel and lots of other awesome thankful bloggers through Rachel at No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane.  It’s time again!  Here’s the gist of it:
On each Wednesday of the month in November, I will write a thank you note to a person for whom I am thankful and put that baby in the mailbox..
On each Thursday of the month, I will write a blog post about the person to whom I wrote.
Ta da!  Thankfulness!  
You don’t have to have a blog to participate either.  This November [and really, all year long] be thankful for the people in your lives!
Check out who I wrote to last year here, here, here, and here.

one more.

25 Sep
Wedding number four of the summer.

I drove home on Friday afternoon [after frantically trying to find a nearby place to change my oil.  a man named peter helped me out.  he was cute.] with the opportunity to stop for lunch with Cassie in LaCrosse.   Rehearsal happened and a fun dinner at the Great Dane followed.  Cousin Mike and Jennie were getting married – it was just crazy to realize that it was finally here.  Mike is a year younger than I [the same age as my brother Ben] and we all grew up together, he and his brother, Kyle, just across the corn field.
The wedding on Saturday was short and sweet, just as the couple wanted.  And actually, it worked out pretty swift since the ceremony was outside and it was a wee bit chilly at 5pm!  I was able to stay for dinner and cake and then I had to take my leave for Minnesota.  It was cool to be in the same place – the same state – as all my siblings and it was also pretty cool that I was able to catch up with a lot of cousins.
One of the highlights of the weekend for me – besides, you know, the actual wedding celebration – was Kyle’s toast as best man and brother of the groom.  Kyle did an awesome job, pinpointing the most awesome things about Mike.  Like how Mike can get really angry if you take a piece of his gum-a-flouge [a gum meant to mask one’s breath while hunting].  Leave it to Mike to have such a thing and leave it to him to get bent out of shape if you take a piece without asking.  Great story.  Great story.  Kyle’s funny.  [as the waitress at the Great Dane took to saying as Kyle teased her.  “You’re funny,” she said … sarcastically?]

stress relief.

1 Sep
I’ve decided that I do not carry stress well.  My hair is proof, though the humidity helped none today.  It wasn’t pretty, folks. [Come on, autumn, and arrive already.]  I see it in my hair, in my lack of any kind of facial expression, and feel it in my shoulders.  The knots hurt.
But enough complaining.  Things are looking up.  My grandpa volunteered to drive a U-Haul on Sunday – this relieves me of so much stress.  It will be great to get everything to Austin in one day.  Congregation members will be there to help unload and I’ll have my bed from day one.  [Plans to move gradually by car load over the course of the month of September make me want to cry.  This will be much better for the transition.] 
I had coffee with Banana Kay and met up with Banana Kim this afternoon before I make my move.  The coffee date at the local coffee shop was made even more interesting by the presence of that one person I emailed in July, asking him to be my friend.  I never told you but he eventually did respond.  To reject my offer.  *awkward turtle*  I guess I am creepy.  I wasn’t entirely sure it was him sitting behind me today but later discovered it was.  We said nothing to each other; actually, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know who I am so it’s okay.  
My mom and I went out to supper with Grandma and Grandpa – we had a date with the Cozy Inn in Janesville.  Guess what kind of cuisine the Cozy Inn serves.  Seriously.  Guess.
Grandma and Grandpa have been going to the Cozy Inn for many years and wanted to make sure I had the experience before I moved.  The food was great and I received an intriguing fortune.  Okay, Cozy Inn, the longest-established-Chinese-restaurant-in-the-United-States-according-to-your-menu, I dare you to prove this fortune true. 

After supper, I received a gift.  Grandpa had gone shopping and picked something up for me from Farm and Fleet.  [It’s not Fleet Farm in this neck of the woods but has equally delicious orange slice candies.]   It’s become pretty standard that when people say, “I saw this and thought of you!,” the this is normally a gnome.  This is likely the largest gnome I now own and I think he will look most excellent on my front stoop.  [The people of Red Oak Grove and going to learn my quirkiness eventually; might as well begin crazy.] 
 Got a home for a gnome?  I always have a home for a gnome!  
That’s my new life motto.  I won’t be a crazy cat lady; I’ll be the crazy gnome lady.  Children will mock me and my friends will have to stage an intervention.  “Lindsay, we say this because we care about you.  Your gnomes are not real people.  Come back to us, back to the outside world.”  I’ll protest at first but then give in as they persist.  [But that doesn’t mean I won’t carry gnomes in my purse when I leave the house and whisper to them when I think no one is watching.]

Baby’s all grown up.

26 Aug
My baby went to college last weekend.
Okay, not my baby but my baby sister. 
We had done the college shopping weeks prior, filling two carts at Target all while coordinating towels, sheets, and storage crates.  I arrived home from Alaska late Saturday night and early Sunday we were off to move Emma into her dorm room.  Lots of changes are happening on Aarback Road these days!

We moved her in and helped her begin to unpack.  We toured the campus and ate lunch together and then had to say goodbye.  She’s only an hour from home and has a car, so it’s not quite the ordeal as when mom and dad dropped me off three hours from home with no car or cell phone as a freshman at Luther.  Not to mention, Emma makes friends so easily and is super friendly, much unlike her shy older sister.  Still, I remember those first few weeks of college – mine were rough.  I’m hoping Emma adjusts and begins to love every minute because seriously, I miss the college days.  She’ll do great.

[AAA] Here’s Ben.

19 Aug
Meet Ben.  He’s my younger brother.  In case you forget his name, it’s on his shirt.

 Ben moved to Alaska three months ago to take a job as an electrician at the community college in Valdez.  His job as an electrician with a company in Wisconsin had been slow in the recent year and he was perhaps up for a little adventure.  He packed up his camper and drove to Valdez in four days [yeah.  four days.  it took me seven.] with his kayak, three different bicycles, and mounted buck head.  Oh, and Jetta, the dog.
I think he kinda loves it here.   He likes his job and his coworkers think he’s the bee’s knees.  One of his coworkers, Chris, talked to me while we all hung out on Wednesday night.  So you think he’s going to stick around for awhile?  I think so, I said.  We don’t want him to go.  We love him here.  Ben’s been doing a lot of cleaning house at the college, cleaning up previous messes and tidying up cords with the electrical.  Apparently he got mad props during the inservice held for staff this past week because of the great work he’s been up to.  They love the work he’s doing and he loves it too.  He showed me the projector he just installed.  He said it was fun.  [silly boy.]

He rents a room in a cabin outside of town.  As he explained it to me, it’s like our family’s cabin in Black River Falls but with plumbing and electricity.  That it is.  He built in a bunk for his rented room.  There’s awesome wallpaper too.  I couldn’t live like this day in and day out but for him, it works.  He doesn’t need stuff to be happy.  [Maybe that’s why he only has one bath towel?  I know what I’ll be mailing him when I get home.]

When I graduated from seminary, Ben sent me a card.  It was signed “from Ben and Jetta” and it said “proud of you” in his boyish printing.  From Ben, that’s a lot.  I’m proud of him too.  It was quite a leap to pack up and move to Alaska but I think he’s found a place where his passions are put into practice each day.  His passions and his gifts are seen in each day he re-wires a classroom or kayaks into the sound or fishes for salmon.  He seems happy here and that, my friends, is a good thing.  I’m glad I was able to visit and see what he’s been up to.  [AAA] success.


9 Aug
My mom, sister, cousin Connor, and I left Edgerton at 6:15 this morning to board the train at Harvard, IL and reach downtown Chicago by 9:30.  One of the main reasons for this trip was to give Connor a chance to show us around his college of choice – Roosevelt University.  

Connor, my birthday twin, has always been a bit of a mystery to me.  He only eats pizza and mashed potatoes and has always been a bit on the – err – strange side.  [Keep in mind I like weird.]  He has completely taken me by surprise in his three summer trips to reach out to people in Kenya and by choosing a college in the downtown of the windy city.  It was great to see the place he’ll call home beginning in just a few weeks.  For a small city kid, he seems completely at home and smart about the big city.

Connor in front of the building that will be his dorm. 
I like this.
After a tour of the highrise buildings that belong to the Roosevelt campus, we walked to Millenium Park.  It’s just across the street from the university and I can’t hardly go to Chicago without visiting the bean.  We sat for a bit, people watched [including a train of preschoolers visiting the sites, all holding onto a ribbon to stay together], and headed for lunch.  
Our afternoon consisted of more walking, shopping [I visited my home away from home – an Anthropologie store], and a brief stop at Navy Pier.  We took a water taxi back to the train station and boarded to head back north towards Wisconsin.  [Let’s talk about train conductors for a minute.  What makes one want to be a train conductor?  And what do they do besides take tickets and punch them with little letter punches three times in random orders?  They get a cool hat that says ‘Conductor’ and there’s likely a little childhood dream involved, but beyond that, what’s the draw?  Seriously.  I want to know.]  Now I’m tired.  And really should go to sleep.  Tomorrow will be a crazy day of prepping a certain Alaska trip that begins the day after next!
Connor became a window model at Crate and Barrel on Michigan Ave.

cakepop challenge III.

1 Aug
The video that was filmed over two weeks ago has finally been edited and ready for your viewing pleasure.  This concludes this cooking pastor series, but I’m certain more will follow.  [Maybe one with qie on a stick, according to a text I received from Kendall this morning.  … his ‘p’ key doesn’t work.]
Missed the first installments in this series?  I’ve added a “cooking pastor” tab at the top of the blog – right under the header.  Click there to catch up!

holy auction, batman.

30 Jul
This was the third auction my family has hosted in my lifetime.  The first, when I was 16 and we were moving off the farm.  The second, four years ago at my grandpa’s, selling the gas engines and gas pumps that my grandfather and dad had refinished as a hobby for so many years.  Now today, the third.  My mom was looking to downsize and now that my brother does not live here, there was a shop filled with tools and tidbits to sell.  [I had no idea how much stuff was in that shop until it was emptied.]

the one holding the gun?  he slapped my butt.
tobacco lathe.
grandpa with cousins mike and brent.
It was a hot sticky day but the crowds filled our yard and our driveway beginning at 8am this morning.  The gas pumps [that my grandpa has refinished since the previous auction four years ago], the gun collection that has lived in the gun closet in my mom’s bedroom for years and years, and a couple tractors on the bill, in addition to furniture, a few lawn mowers, and tobacco lathes, brought the people.  The people included lots of my dad’s family, Einstein [or a man who greatly resembled this scientist], and the amish.
It was a stressful and crazy couple of days preparing for my mom and my brother, but once the day arrived, things fell into place nicely.  The auctioneer and auction specialist ran things in an orderly fashion, and the head of the auction company only slapped my butt once.  [And I’m pretty serious about that.  Yeah, he’s like 60.]  I teared up only at one point, when Ben climbed onto the John Deere to start it for the crowds.  It was a tractor that we used each year in tobacco harvest, and that would be the last time someone in our family started it.  Sad story.  But such is life.  The tractor must continue on to make another farmer a happy tractor driver, as is every tractor’s dream.  Go, John Deere, fulfill your tractor destiny.
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