Friday, July 31, 2009

Ole and Lena


Photobucket

Nolan and I walked the campus of Concordia College after swimming lessons the other day. This sculpture was affectionately known as Ole and Lena when we attended school there. Concordia College is a private Lutheran College.

Wiki describes Ole and Lena as such: Ole and Lena (also Sven and Ole) are central characters in jokes by Scandinavian-Americans, particularly Norwegian-Americans, dominantly in the Upper Midwest region of the U.S., particularly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota where Scandinavian immigrants and Lutherans are common.

I've grown up hearing these jokes. Nothing tops an old Norwegian telling an Ole and Lena joke in their thick accent. Heres to hoping you have some laughs today!


Ole and Sven went fishing one summer and decided to rent a boat from the resort instead of fishing from the shore. They rowed out a ways and started to fish. They caught one fish after the other. Ole says to Sven, "I wish we could mark this spot. It’s the best fishing I've seen since I was a boy."

Sven replied, "I got some chalk in my tackle box, so why don't I put an X right here on the bottom of the boat?"

Ole laughed, "You goofy brother of mine...What if we don't rent the same boat next time."








Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Its not about me

Its not about me today. Sometimes there are days that just don't belong to us. Today is one of those days. It just isn't about me. It shouldn't be about me. Today the kindest thing I can do is gather you here to send you elsewhere. My heart is weary with the urgent needs of so many others today.

Jody at nitty.gritty. has a special post today describing in detail the day 8 years ago they were sitting in a restaurant when a car smashed through the wall and killed her precious daughter Teagan and severely injured the rest of her family. She blogs about her faith in a transparent and authentic voice and is so inspiring in how she has moved forward from this tragic day. Kleenex recommended :)

Our gitzengirl, Sara, has been an inspiration to me and many from the first time I clicked on the image of her little white pup Riley. She lives with a debilitating disease, but her spirit and joy are what shine through in her posts. Recently she has had a tough go of coming off of her steriods and I am certain has been in excruciating pain. She has weighed heavily on my heart and mind these past few weeks and my only comfort is knowing how strong she is in her faith. As I wrote this a new entry popped up in my sidebar... leave it to Sara to title it gratitude, during this difficult and painful time!

Stellan is in the hospital again with svt and in need of another ablation. He is the 9 month old son of MckMama which so many of you have come to know and love. His family is waiting to be airlifted back to Boston for his impending surgery. MckMama will also inspire you with her faith-driven messages in these toughest of days. You can see his picture in my sidebar and read about his current condition at mycharmingkids.

It was Kaleena's comment to me yesterday that inspired this post. She stated "you seem to surround yourself with kind people!" I couldn't agree more. Kaleena has had her own share of misfortune lately and I was honored that two newer readers here reached out to her with encouragement.

Today, because it isn't about me, feel free to check out any of the above links and spread some of those heartfelt and kind words about, or join some of us in keeping these fellow bloggers in your thoughts and prayers. You'll be inspired by their stories, and when you see how they deal with their difficult situations, maybe you'll join me in thinking its okay if somedays it isn't about me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Swimming Lesson.




Nolan loves to swim. When he was three, one of the first things we did upon moving back to Minnesota was to enroll him in parent and child swimming lessons.

Day one I was polling other parents as to when they thought our kids would go under the water. With much convincing and coaxing most hoped by the end of the class. Nolan made it to day two. He let go of my hands and thrust his head down under the water and I could see the smile forming on his lips before he even surfaced for air. As it just so happens, I may be a bit taken with the water myself. It would surprise me not if I too sported the smallest of smiles. From then on, he and his little blue-belted-body boldly ventured further and further out into the pool and so began my earnest attempts to keep up.

We never had to question if he was ready for the water or the new skill his teachers were introducing. He sailed through his classes. Last summer he started in level two, passed to three, spent a week there and was moved up to level 4. I saw him emerge as a confident and strong swimmer.

I was so excited to begin our lessons last week. I, too, went through the entire series of lessons. I know from experience at this level the strokes would be harder to perform. They will require some skill and finesse, some coordination and a desire to perfect them. But Nolan has never lacked in determination. Until now.

I knew it would happen at some point. A teacher that doesn't mesh with Nolan. And in an effort to demand the very best out of Nolan, this new swim teacher threatened to "punish" the class when Nolan didn't perform. Now the weather has not been hot enough to swim every day like we normally do. Plus he was also somewhat leery of the whole 50 minutes being in the deep end of the pool. So when they were told to tread water, Nolan had a hard time wanting to let go of the edge of the pool for long periods of time. The teacher told the class that every time Nolan touched the wall, they would have to tread water LONGER.

It was no surprise today when Nolan woke with a "sore throat." He whispered that he wouldn't be able to go to swimming lessons for the rest of this week. He looked defeated. He tried to dig in his heels when I protested. I debated a long time on what to do. A part of me didn't want to force him to go, and it had nothing to do with his throat.

Still another part of me wanted to be THAT parent. The kind that swoops in, rescues their child and gives the instructor a piece of her mind. But a quieter part of me, desperately wanted Nolan to figure this out on his own. I thought to myself, how many times have I wanted to quit something? Too many to remember. But after sticking most of those things out for awhile, I realized sometimes when I struggled the most, things turned out the best. I'd find an inner quality I didn't know I had. I developed an ability to persevere. I wasn't and still am not, a quitter.

So Nolan and I agreed. It was his decision. But if he was quitting, he was going to tell his teacher face to face himself. We even role-played the kinds of things his teacher might say in an effort to talk him out of it. Slowly I could see something soften in Nolan. He finally looked at me and said "Do you really think he will want me to stay? 'Cause I was thinking he wouldn't care." I assured him I thought his teacher would care. Without saying anything he went and put on his suit and we left for the pool.

I watched and listened from the sidelines and I said a little prayer. "Please let today be different."

And then I heard the words I'd been dreading... "and if you touch the wall, we'll DOUBLE your time treading water today." Then, after a bit of a pause I heard... " JUST KIDDING!! Lets see who can tread water the longest today!"

In no way did this sound threatening, much more fun in a competitive way. I still saw Nolan reach for the wall, but this time no body said anything. This young instructor continued to engage the kids in a playful manner today. He threw the rings that Nolan is always so eager to retrieve. He loosened up and seemed to enjoy the experience.

My confident swimmer emerged again. He came home begging to go to the outdoor pool today to practice. We spent several hours swimming together today, just a mom and her son, still enjoying their love of the water. And yes, just like when he was three, I am still attempting to just keep up!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cully's Kids


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket




We're fortunate in our community to live amongst some big hearted people. We were honored and privileged to be amongst them this past weekend. Rick was asked to photograph a golf outing and a concert/auction last Friday for the kickoff of the Cully's Kids foundation Celebrity weekend.

Matt Cullen is a professional hockey player and plays on the Carolina Hurricanes in the NHL. He has had a long and very successful hockey career, along with his two younger brothers, Mark and Joe. Matt and his wife Bridget, started the Cully's Kids Foundation several years ago. The mission of their organization is to "provide financial resources to organizations that support children's healthcare needs, with an emphasis on cancer." Through a grant system various organizations can apply for financial assistance for children's services and programs.

Each year, one weekend in July, Matt and his entire family host a golf tournament, a concert with a live sports memorabilia auction and a picnic the next day, all in an effort to raise funds for the foundation. Through ticket sales to the events and the auction money raised and generous donations by many local families, the foundation raises funds to dole out at a later time.

The morning of the golf tournament was kicked off with a breakfast with Matt and Bridgett and their "invited guests." These guests, are the very type of kids the foundation supports. These kids are living with cancer and many other kinds of disabilities and diseases. Although through Rick's pictures I got the sense that this celebrity weekend experience is a bit of respite from the daily trappings of their medically challenged lives. I don't know if he had any idea of just what an emotional day it would be, although they tried to forewarn him. I don't know how you prepare to not be terribly moved by the courage on display.

Along with Matt and his brothers many other local hockey players are invited to participate. There are Divison I hockey college hockey players and former Olympic Team participants and many other local celebrities. But the big draw this weekend was Matt's teammate from the Carolina Hurricanes, Eric Stahl who was in attendance with his wife.

In exchange for his photography, Rick was given tickets to all the events. We felt really honored to attend and participate as a family at the picnic on Saturday which was held at the Redhawks baseball stadium. The boys had friends who were volunteering at the picnic and I loved seeing Nolan help his friend at one of the games.

Rick and I took turns for awhile at the entrance of the bounce houses. We were an extra set of hands for some of the kids who might require a little help, but I was totally amazed at how these kids managed so well despite their challenges. Leg braces were not a deterrent to getting inside and bouncing! Everywhere I looked I saw kids having fun.

Eric Stahl proved to be a wonderful addition to the event. Rick has so many pictures of him playing knee hockey with the kids, giving fives and fist bump, and posing for pictures and giving autographs. Our boys also got to participate in the running of the bases on the field. Mark and Joe Cullen stood on two of the bases giving high fives to the kids as they ran around the bases. Our own boys have heard Mark and Joe stories from their Grandma Carole, as she had both of the Cullen boys when they were in second grade. Both Cullen boys send their best wishes for the future to you, Mrs. Westra! They posed for a quick photo for us to give to you, as the little boys whizzed by the bases.

We've never regretted moving back to this community. Every time we have the opportunity to be part of an experience such as this one, we are reminded why we chose to come back, and don't look back over our shoulders.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Golf adventures.

Nolan








Cousin Gunnar











Colton









Nolan, Colton and their cousin Gunnar competed in their end of the season golf tournament on Monday. We awoke to thunderstorm clouds and the threat of rain, but it held off long enough for our tournament. Each of the boys played in their own division. Colton in the 8 and under. Nolan in the 9 and 10 year olds and Gunnar in the 11 and 12 year olds.

They each played a number of holes either on the course or on a manufactured spot on the driving range for Colton. All three of them putted the same course roped off on the putting green. We couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised at the little awards ceremony at the end of the tourney. Gunnar got first place in putting for his age group with a 20. I think he had plans of retiring the clubs for next year, but Uncle Rick says "no way." You are a for real golfer when you take first place and you need to continue!

And Nolan tied for first place in his age group with an 18. Not to be forgotten however was Colton who also won his age group with a 19! And Colton got 3rd place overall on his holes. Leave it to the 7 year old to show everyone how its done. He had his own little following of kids who clapped and cheered for him when he won and he absolutely beamed.

But our early morning showed a bit in our baseball games later that night. Nolan struggled with pitching, as did the other two boys who had played in the golf tourney. We won the first game and lost our second one. We will need a big win tomorrow night to earn a spot in the championship bracket for Thursday and Friday.

I've been messing with the blog design all day. I've settled on this for a bit. I'll try it on and see if it fits. What do you think? Rick cast a no vote because he says all of my links are at the bottom and nobody will scroll down to see anything. But I love the clean look. What do you think? Which do you prefer, content in the sidebar, or clean design?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Simplicity.



With a beautiful sunny day beckoning me yesterday, I still had been contemplating my next blog post all day. I have mountains of photos to sort through, each with its own tale to tell. As I sifted through them I was overwhelmed with the amount we are doing together as a family. I couldn't begin to process it into anything coherent. Plus, we have another adventurous week filled with the last week of baseball for the boys, the end of season junior golf tournament and the beginning of swimming lessons. I did the only logical thing. I picked a photo and wrote my post.

And then I gave in. I grabbed a book. Called the dog. Sat outside in the sun. And read. Thats it. And it was both good and enough. Kind of like the dragonfly. All he really needed was that single blade of grass to rest upon and I marveled at how not even the wind could shake him from his perch. With a whole lawn of grass to choose from, he only chose that one blade. It was good. It was enough.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wishes Come True.


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket




Photobucket


Photobucket





I made it! Of course I haven't seen the news yet, but barring anything unforeseen, I am thinking I made it through unscathed! What an adventurous day. Almost always, my birthday falls on one of the days of the Downtown Fargo Street Fair. Its a combination of arts and crafts, performers, fair food, and just all around fun. I can't remember a year I haven't gone to the street fair. When Nolan was just 6 weeks old I strapped him into his carrier and walked the entire thing with him sleeping on my chest.

But the one drawback of the street fair is usually the weather. Its typically high heat, high humidity and low breeze. Yesterday could not have been more opposite. I joked about wearing Uggs and a parka, because it was chilly. It may have hit 70, but the windy conditions put a chill in the air and we shivered our way through the day. I seriously don't ever recall a birthday as cold as this one. I have to admit though, I'd rather have it cold than too hot!

After spending the afternoon at the fair our evening concluded with Nolan's last two baseball games of the regular season. Our team has been towards the bottom of the standings and we haven't gotten too caught up in all the ups and downs of the year. The team we were playing against is second or third in the standings and so we were prepared for the possibility that we could lose in a really ugly fashion. But our boys thought differently. They battled this team and we ended our first game in a tie!

Now I was too cold to take pictures and spent the night wrapped in a couple of blankets with my teeth chattering. But our second game was also a close one and one of the best played games we have had all season. It ended in a victory for us of 4-2 and our kids were so excited!

But the poor coach of the other team! Roger is a former sports announcer with one of the local television stations. He has been out of the business now for awhile so our kids don't recognize him, but the rest of us do. He and Rick have always shared a mutual fondness for baseball and have had many lengthy conversations about baseball this summer.

And guess what? It turns out it was HIS BIRTHDAY TOO last night! They had signs for him and they sang Happy Birthday to him before the start of the game. We joked with him last night and he shared a birthday cupcake with me when he found out it was my birthday too. Oddly we are both 27! *wink* But for his birthday he was handed two losses to a team pretty far down in the standings. And I couldn't help but think... do you suppose my "jinx" rubbed off on him?

Photobucket

(Robin this photo of my b-day cake is for you... this was a vanilla bean white cake with buttercream in-between!!)

Photobucket

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

Popular Posts

Minnesota.com

Minnesota.com - MN Weather, Map, Businesses and Blogs