Monday, April 30, 2018

Life lately

As the wife of a college professor, I think April just might be the fastest and busiest month of the year. Can you believe the college semester is over for Steve at the end of this week? The boys and I are getting excited to have him home with a free schedule soon! (Until he starts teaching summer courses later.) Here's a little peek into what we've been up to!

When we got back from our trip to Pennsylvania for the funerals, August was sounding a little wheezy, so we took him to the doctor, and the doctor gave him a nebulizer. Holding a one-year-old during a nebulizer treatment? - that was a new kind of torture for both of us! He ended up being fine, and I think it was just a result of teething and a runny nose.

 I've been trying to master the lacy, wrinkly, big-as-your-hand kind of chocolate chip cookie. This batch worked out nicely, but they were a little crunchy, so I want to work on perfecting them.

The boys asked to go outside and pick dandelions and flowers. We have pretty little grape hyacinths scattered around the front yard.

A tiny vase for tiny hand-picked flowers :)

We still have some cold days, but the warm ones have been wonderful! It's been so nice to take the stroller out for walks.

August was checking out the cute duck couple in our backyard. We fed them pieces of bread, and they warmed up to us. They came back the next morning, and I wondered if we had new pets, but they haven't returned since.

Ephraim: "Mommy, will you come to the party in the teepee?"
Me: "I can't right now, I'm helping Nolan with his schoolwork."
Ephraim: "You have to make a pattern: Party, School, Party, School, Party, School!"

Life lessons from my 4-year-old.

I live to see him smile!!

He climbs up on the rocking chair with a favorite book and reads to himself!

No product to style this hair, except maybe some peanut butter & jelly. :)

Nolan and his cousin are on the same U6 soccer team! They are so fun to watch!

The boys and I planted lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and green beans. We bought only container-friendly seeds so that we can keep them in pots in case we end up moving houses this summer.

After one week of growth, all but the sweet peppers had sprouted! This week, the green beans are about a foot tall, and the sweet peppers have come up. Every year, I am so amazed at the miracle of growing seeds!

Speaking of which, we borrowed these books from the library to learn more about seeds and plants. I really love, "Plants Can't Sit Still" and "The Forest Feast".

The daylight has been sticking around until past bedtime. It's hard for them to get in a sleepy mood when the sun's still shining.

August is so much fun these days. He understands nearly all of what I say to him or ask him to do, and he is starting to say a few words!

The white blossoming trees are so pretty this week. Thanks, Spring, for finally showing up!

And as of a couple weeks ago, our birdfeeder finally has daily visitors! They are a few brown sparrows and one cute chickadee, and I love sitting at the dining room table and watching them.

The perfect shirt for a crazy birdwatcher like me. It was only $5 at Target :)  And thanks, Aunt Meg, for making this pretty mug!

Hope your week starts off to a smooth start!


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Jack & Olive

A few weeks ago, Stephen's Grandpa Jack went home to be with Jesus. Less than two days later, his Grandma Olive also passed away peacefully. Jack was Stephen's paternal grandfather, and Olive was Stephen's maternal grandmother. They were his last two remaining grandparents, and we are still a little stunned that they passed at the same time.

Grandma Olive and Grandpa Jay. Grandpa Jay died in 1966, so Grandma outlived him by over 50 years.

Olive and Jay with their four children. (Stephen's mom is on the left.)

Last summer, we celebrated Grandma's 100th birthday! What an honor to know and love a centenarian! She loved her family wholeheartedly.

Steve's Grandpa Jack and Grandma Gloria had a beautiful love story. Gloria passed in 2014, and Jack could not wait to be reunited with her.

Jack was in the Navy before he married Gloria and became a veterinarian.

The last time we saw Grandpa Jack was on our summer vacation in New York last July. It was the week before his 87th birthday. I love that he's holding an ice cream cone. :)  We are so glad that both of Steve's grandparents were able to meet August.

Steve, with two of his brothers and three cousins at Grandpa's funeral.

August meeting cousin Augustin.

I'm grateful for the nine years I got to be granddaughter-in-law to Jack and Olive, and I appreciate the wonderful examples that they each set for us. We will miss them very much, but we are thankful that they knew Jesus. We know they are in paradise now.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Dark Chocolate Pudding

This recipe comes from the "FRIENDS" 1995 cookbook, of all places. Steve bought it for me once at the thrift store, as a silly gift, but it turns out to have quite a few delicious, from-scratch recipes! I LOVE this rich, dark chocolate pudding. It is really simple to make, so long as you have a few minutes to continually stir a pot on the stove. And it tastes SO much better than a Snack Pack. The flavor reminds me of a dark chocolate ice cream, with an entirely different, amazing texture. The boys like to call it "chocolate yogurt" because when it's cold, it has that thick and creamy consistency. :)


1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
2 ounces semisweet chocolate (About 1/3 cup of chocolate chips)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Whisk the sugar, cocoa, and cornstarch together in a medium saucepan to break up any lumps. Slowly whisk in the milk and set the pan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously, especially as the mixture thickens and becomes very hot. Simmer gently for one minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.

Stir in the chocolate chips and butter. When they have melted, remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the pudding into four custard cups or small bowls. Cool slightly, and serve warm if you like soft pudding, or chill in the refrigerator if you prefer cold and creamy pudding.

Do you see that pretty sheen on the top? 

Give it a try! :)

Friday, April 20, 2018


They were LaVerne and Shirley.
Really, my grandmothers' names were LaVerne and Shirley.
Shirley was outgoing and creative, and we lost her too soon.
It broke my 12-year-old heart.
LaVerne, we got to keep much longer, thankfully.
But she slipped away peacefully on March 18th, at age 88.

Grandma LaVerne grew up in Minneapolis,
the daughter of a doctor and his wife.
It seems like she had a lovely childhood.
Her sister was born on her 5th birthday,
and her brother arrived when she was already a teenager.
She met my Grandpa Don in high school at Minnehaha Academy,
And they were married for nearly 69 years.

I loved seeing so many younger photos of her at her memorial service two weeks ago.

This photo was taken when my Grandma went to Sweden with her parents,
to visit her father's parents
at their farm on the island of Gotland.
She went to Sweden, speaking only English,
and she came home, speaking only Swedish. :)

Grandma on the left with her sister Charlotte and brother Bob.

The sweetest wedding photos of Grandma & Grandpa in 1949.


My grandpa wanted to be a pastor,
and later a seminary professor.
They spent quite a few years moving around for his degrees:
a BA and BDiv from Bethel in Minneapolis,
a Master's in Theology from Fuller in Pasadena, California,
and a doctorate in Biblical languages from Brandeis in Massachusetts. 
 Grandma liked to say, she got her PHT degree (Putting Hubby Through).

Along the way, 
Grandma had five boys and a girl.
Dan, Karen, Paul, Bruce, Brian & John,
the last two boys born only 12 months apart.

At 32, she had six babies.
As I'm nearing that age, that puts it all into perspective!

My dad (Bruce) in the front.

Grandma was an amazing pianist and organist.
She used that talent,
plus her hospitality,
at all of the churches they served.

Minnesota, Nebraska, California, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Illinois, Wisconsin.
So many places that they called home in their 69 years together,
while they followed God's calling.

Grandpa said to me last week,
"She worked hard,
and she didn't complain."

As to all of their adventures, he said,
"It was what I wanted,
and it was what she wanted, too."

Grandma had a huge affection for dogs.
They always had a dog in their house.

This is me, meeting them for the first time.
Except for a couple of years on opposite ends of Chicago,
we unfortunately never lived very close.

I love this photo of my grandparents,
my cousin Lindsay,
my sister Hannah, 
 and Misty the collie, of course.

We clung to our mutual faith after losing my dad in 1991,
and Hannah in 2001.

When Steve and I got married,
Grandma and Grandpa drove from Minnesota to Pennsylvania,
their last big road trip.
We celebrated their 60 years of marriage,
and toasted to our new one.

Living 1,000 miles away for eight years didn't make visits easy,
especially with our three new babies.
Nolan met G&G at Thanksgiving in 2012.

And Ephraim met them in July of 2015.

Here, Grandma had broken her leg, and spent her entire summer in rehab.
She was wheelchair bound from then on.

We were happy to visit again in August 2016.
Once a year was not enough!

And the last time I saw Grandma was this past Thanksgiving.
I'm so grateful that we got this photo!
I wish I had snapped one while she was holding August.

Things I will remember:

Grandma's positivity.
Her inquisitiveness. She asked a lot of questions!
Her soft and smooth hands,
that I see whenever I look at my own.
Her extremely tight hugs.
Her laughs with her nose crinkled 
and her shoulders shaking.
Black-eyed susans.
Their house in Door County,
where I learned to enjoy the water
and ride a bike.
Black coffee in Swedish mugs.
Chocolate "K" bars and oatmeal bread,
peanut brittle and cherry cheesecake.
A fridge full of magnets from all of their travels. 
Her white shoes and sheer stockings under her pants.
Her lengthy, wonderful Christmas card letters.
The loud way she could whistle,
and her words, "Is that right?!"      
The symbol of the treble clef,
and her amazing piano talent.

Thank you for 30 wonderful years, Grandma.
Until we meet again in glory...


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