Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The busy elves.

The elves are folding,
sticking and stamping as they assemble our annual 2010 Holiday Christmas cards.
We have a couple of rules when it comes to our Christmas card.

1. Steve is the official author of our annual Holiday letter. He has been for 18 years and he usually interjects some type of a humorous twist in the annual recap. I have saved every letter he has written since we have been married. So far, they are just in a file, but some day I'll make a book out of those letters.
2. Our Christmas photo must include our whole family. This is actually Steve's rule. He requires the photo to be of the family so the recipient knows that we belong together. I have artistic license on the picture choice. Some years it has been very difficult to get a picture of the family that I really like. Last year I resorted to a collage of photos because I didn't have the perfect pic. This year was a different story because my bestie, Heather {of Heather Hubert Photography}, did a photo-shoot of our family a couple of months ago. I had a lot of options and the only difficulty was narrowing down the choice.

Here are a few pics that didn't make our 2010 Holiday card...
When you receive this year's Christmas card from us, know that it was assembled by elves of the highest caliber and much thought was put into the letter content and family photo choice {photography by Heather}. In other words, be impressed. Be very impressed.
If you don't receive one, then blame it on the terrible weather in MN because I know the USPS is doing its very best.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Gratitude Album

I bought this simple 4x6 photo album at Target for $3.99 and made a Thanksgiving keepsake called a Gratitude Album. The template was purchased from Cathy Zielske and was super easy to put together.
I printed out pictures and cards in advance and added other photos which had been taken this Fall. Each attendee filled out his/her respective cards and all were slid back into the album.
Fourteen of our family members gathered at Russ & Kristy's house in Thompson. Despite the dire weather warnings, we were all able to safely traverse to their new closer locale. The only party missing was my older brother, Randy, who was busy tracking, hunting and killing an elk in MT with buddies.
So much to be thankful for and now it is captured and saved in this tidy, cute little package.

My buddy, Nixin, helped me to get all these album pictures taken and when I told him, "I love you, Nixin." Nixin replied, "Me too." Ah... melts my heart.
Although Angelique pointed out, "Did he say that because he loves himself or because he loves you?" Me, of course!
Nix filled out the most precious Thankful item of all....
"LOVE. Thankful for My God." Amen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It's official.

I have been waiting for this day. It has taken 13 years, 6 months, 13 days, and my first born is officially taller than me. She was the exact same height as me on my birthday last month, but now I have been passed. This is an important milestone which I was NEVER able to achieve, as I will forever be shorter than my momma.
Way to go, ABBY!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful from A to Z

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a listing of what I am grateful for from A to Z:

A: Abbigail & Angelique, love you both to the moon and back.
B: Books... one of my favorite escapes & I adore our local Viking library.
C: coffee... its how I start my day, every day... love, love, love it.
D: our fluffy, white, loving, doggie... Miss Bella, what did we talk about before her?
E: employment for Steve at M-State and for me with USBank.
F: our loving-supportive family, fantastic friends, & Faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
G: grandparents... they are the best and my kids are so lucky to have 3 very loving grandparents in their lives.
H: our comfortable, sheltering home, filled with love and fun.
I: iris, it is my favorite flower, so incredibly beautiful and fragile.
J: for being able to keep this online journal of our Lindgren-style life.
K: I love giving and receiving kisses, especially at bedtime accompanied by hugs and "Iloveyous"
L: laughter - I am positive it is the best medicine and mood lifter of all.
M: good manners, nothing like "please, thank you, I'm sorry, pardon me..." to help smooth the daily ups and downs of life.
N: for naps... I wish I could take a nap eVeRYdAy!
O: for on-line shopping... no lines and frequently, no shipping charges - BONUS.
P: Photographs, I love taking pictures and trying to capture the emotion of the moment.
Q: quinoa, our family loves the nutty flavor and we frequently use it as a stand-in for rice.
R: running, it is a necessary stress reliever for me
S: my spouse for almost 19 years and love of my life, Steve.
T: texting, it is a communication tool that I never knew I would love. It keeps connected to the besties in my life.
U: for my husband's understanding nature, and unconditional love. He is one in a million.
V: vegetables that are homegrown in our garden or from the gardens of generous friends.
W: Wii... It makes for great family game night competitions, and also for walks, my 3 day weekends and our family's well-being.
X: X-mas, I love celebrating Christ's birth. The season brings out the best in people.
Y: for these 42 years of my life. I am blessed beyond measure.
Z: zero-homework nights... even if they are pretty rare these days... it just takes the pressure off.

So many, many things that I am thankful and grateful for. Most especially being able to gather together with our family to enjoy laughter, delicious food & make memories. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The birthday boots

I got these awesome boots while shopping with two of my besties at Kohl's in Sioux Falls on my birthday (Oct 15th)... with birthday money from my MIL... so they are officially my "birthday boots". Little did I know what adventures I would end up having with my birthday boots just one week later on October 21. Here is how that went down (literally).
I chose to wear my new birthday boots for the first time on our way to Greeley, CO on Thursday, October 21st. We actually departed from Sioux Falls by 6:00 AM, where we had spent the night with one of my oldest friends from college and her three kids. Needless to say, by the time we reached Greeley 10 hours later, we all had a serious case of seat-butt. As soon as we pulled into the Bytnar's driveway at 3:00 PM, Kippy, Abby & I hopped into Kathy's vehicle to go pick up Darian from school as a surprise. By then, my boots had been in 3 states in one day... SD, NE & CO, yet I hadn't even walked more than one block in total in them. The surprise pick-up of Darian was a success and we went back to the Bytnar household.

Kathy asked if I wanted to go for a walk before supper and of course, I was all up for that... 1. I would get some visiting time in with MYKathy. 2. The prospect of moving after sitting for so long sounded blissful.

I told Kathy I would quick go change into my tennie-shoes. I grabbed some bags and headed downstairs to the guest bedroom, but not before Kathy said, "Let me help you with those bags." I refused because I felt I had it under control and both hands were equally balanced, so no help needed, right? I quickly headed down the steps and made it to the first landing, turned and started down the remaining steps. Since my hands were full of bags, I wasn't using the railing and I was still wearing my birthday boots. This is where things get a little fuzzy. I believe I was about 3 or 4 steps from the bottom and the heel of my left boot caught on the carpet. It just caused a slight tug, but it was enough to throw my balance off and with the downward momentum I basically launched off the stairs. I landed with a jarring splat onto the cork flooring at the base of the steps. Kathy heard the sound and at first thought I had dropped one of my bags. I heard her call out, "Renae, are you ok?" but my breath was knocked out of me and I couldn't answer. In fact, I didn't feel like I could even move at all. I was face down and my left cheek and jaw were on fire. My first thought was my teeth. I moved my tongue around and thankfully didn't feel any fragments. My second thought was my cheek bone. While still laying face down, I brought my right hand to feel my left cheek. It felt ok, but my hand was full of blood and I didn't have any idea where it was coming from. Kathy was now beside me and Abby was right behind her. Kathy told Abby to go get Steve, who was out on the patio with Reno. I was responding as best as I could to Kathy's questions. She moved the bags out of the way. I could feel a warm pool of blood under the left side of my face, which began to make me very dizzy with tunnel vision. Steve quickly came to help out and when he had me lift my head he said, "We need to get her to the ER." I still wasn't sure what was bleeding and I felt so very light headed. I saw Abby's face and her eyes were big with fear. I told her I was fine and it didn't hurt. Steve said it was my chin that was bleeding. Steve & Kathy worked quickly to clean me up enough to sit up without letting me see too much of the red stuff.

The game plan was hatched. Kathy would be the one to take me to Urgent care since she knew the way. I told Steve to stay with the kids because one helper was enough. Steve kindly took this picture just before we departed to the ER.
Together, we waited at Urgent Care. We messed around taking pictures and basically tried to keep me distracted. Things were going pretty smooth, until the nurse asked to see the wound. I moved the washcloth/icepack combo for her to look at it. She checked it out and then very seriously told me, "I have to tell you not to drink anything because you have a hole and it will go right through." I turned and looked at Kathy, with my eyes wide in fear. Then the nurse patted my leg and said she was just kidding. NOT the best joke I have ever heard.

Once I filled out the appropriate paperwork and waited until it was my turn, I was directed to an exam room. Kathy was busy texting between Reno and Steve (Rupe) on the progress. The guys and kids were taking bets on how many stitches I would get. Truly I had a lot of laughs during this process. I think the nurse and Dr. both wanted to come hang out with us.

Can't believe that I was only in the Bytnar's house for 5 minutes after a nearly 900 mile trip and did this to myself. One thing for certain is that I was very glad it was me and not anyone else. I am sure my heart would have stopped beating if I would have come upon someone laying at the bottom of the stairs in a pool of blood. Just saying.
The Dr. was really very nice. When she found out there were bets on the number of stitches, she asked us not to tell her the number so that she wouldn't be biased. I will have to admit my chin didn't hurt at all until the Novocaine shots were administered. Then I became very, very aware of my chin. IT BURNED LIKE FIRE! This was my first injury requiring stitches. I have had stitches for 4 different moles I have had removed, but I don't remember the Novocaine burning in the same way. Of course, I had stitches post-childbirth, but my memory of that is really fuzzy too. My first thought was about Kippy. She was 5 when she had cut the back of her head and gotten 2 stitches. I felt bad that I wasn't sympathetic enough when she had the Novocaine shots. {Sorry, Kippy!}

The total number of stitches was 7. Steve had guessed 5, so he was the closest in the betting pool. I told the Dr. it would be really fun if she would just throw her hands up in the air after tying the last knot, like at the rodeo when cowboys finish tying the calf's legs. Yup - I think random things during traumatizing events.

Kathy & I never did get to go on a walk. I do want to credit Kathy for staying calm thus keeping me calm. I came close, but never fainted, so that is an improvement for me. Poor Kathy, this is the second time we have gotten together this year and the second time she has had to deal with my blood aversion this year as well.

Everything in my body hurt much worse the next morning. Bruises showed up on my elbows, right rib cage and on my left hand. There must have been all kinds of flailing going on when I fell. I kind of wish I could see what happened on a hidden camera or something. The best I can piece together for a lesson learned is DO NOT WEAR YOUR BOOTS IN SOMEONE'S HOUSE. I really don't know why I hadn't taken those boots off right when I came in the door. I think it was because I was thinking that they were new and not dirty and I was in a hurry to change my shoes and so excited to be there after the drive, basically I wasn't even thinking straight.

2 days post injury... swelling had gone down more. The big joke was that I looked like the lunch lady with my 14 black whiskers sticking out of my chin because all you could see is the stitches from under my chin.
5 days post injury and right after having the stitches removed by my girl HH.

Who would have thought these birthday boots would be the cause of so much chaos? I am sure my scar will last much longer than the fabled boots.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A work-in-progress.

Our kitchen has been a work-in-progress ever since we moved into this house 8 years ago. Back in the Fall of 2002, we only tackled "must-do" items. Those items included replacing the broken dishwasher and stove. Our budget restricted our ability to get the desired stainless steel appliances, instead, we went for functionality, and chose to match the existing almond colored fridge. Later in 2006, our almond colored fridge crapped out on us, so we replaced that with a stainless steel fridge, which means we have been in a continual state of mismatched appliances.

So other than appliances, nothing new happened in the kitchen for several years. Don't get me wrong, there was still a strong desire to make improvements, but those desires & wishes just didn't take priority over the other items "must-do" home improvement priorities.
Eventually, in the Fall of 2007, the lighting was upgraded in the kitchen. Three new pendent lights were installed over the peninsula by my handy hubby and my ever-helpful-younger-brother, Russ. The light above the sink and the center light were also replaced. Everything had a brushed nickel finish. However, the original wallpaper and dark cabinets really overwhelmed & overshadowed the beautiful new lighting.
So, we continued to work on the cosmetic aspects of our kitchen in the fall of 2007, including removing all the wallpaper and painting the walls in Toasted Wheat.
The girls were recruited to help with these tasks as well. By Christmas of 2007, Steve & I tackled the time consuming process of repainting all of the cabinets as well as the cabinet hardware. Steve also added some crown moulding to the top of the cabinetry, which made them look completely new.
So this is where we are today with our kitchen. It has basically been the same for the past three years, with the exception of having to replace a broken microwave with a beautiful stainless steel one. Oh, I almost forgot... a year and 1/2 ago, the window was replaced as well. That was a must-do project since the sill was rotted. After three years, we are getting prepared to make more changes to our work-in-progress kitchen.
Our next step is to replace the scratched, cracked, {ugly} cream.with.pink.speckles laminate with quartz. We agreed on this style, which is called Cascade Pebble from Relianz. We won't get an official install date until the computerized measurements are taken next Tuesday. In the plan, we will have an under-mount stainless-steel sink with a brushed nickel finish faucet put in.
Once the new counter-tops are professionally installed {hopefully by mid December}, we are going to put in this mosaic glass tile as a back splash.
Here is what they look like together. Still need to make a decision on what color of grout to use. Leaning toward cream, which is the color of the cabinets, but maybe tan? Not sure yet.
Steve has signed up to demolition the existing counter-top and to do the plumbing work for the new sink and faucet. We will be able to jointly work on the back splash project with a goal of having it complete by Christmas. Rest assured, our kitchen will continue to be a work-in-progress as we dream about replacing the laminate flooring with real wood flooring as well as having a gas-stainless steel stove and dishwasher. All in good time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

In honor of Veterans Day

A sincere thank you to my brother Russ, and to all the Veterans who have served this country to preserve our freedom.
We are grateful and proud of you Russ! You are my hero.

This red, white and blue family solutes all Veterans on this beautiful day!

The Bravest Man I Know

by Amanda Whitney

The bravest man I know.

Is a man I've never met.

He's a man who risks his life

To save a friend,

Not only to save a friend,

But to save a nation.

Risking his life

For those he does not know.

Stepping up

Leaving loved ones behind,

So that somewhere,

Someone else won't have to.

He is a man who follows orders

Even though he knows he might die.

The bravest man I know.

Is the man who would rather die,

So one more person could go home

To see his family again.

The man who stares death in the face,

But never blinks.

The bravest man I know.

Is the man who risks his life

So one day the world may be a better place for his children.

Or any man who goes against his biggest fear.


Just to save someone he loves.

The bravest man I know.

Is the man who fights

So another man can have the taste of sweet freedom.

Not fighting only for his own benefit,

But for many others all over the world,

Fighting to make this world a better place.

That's the bravest man I know.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Colorado Trip Highlights {Part 3}

Saturday, October 23rd, was a perfect mix of something-for-everyone day. Kathy and I were the early birds on Saturday morning and took that opportunity to go for an enjoyable 4 mile jaunt in the cool 35 degree mountain air. Kathy kept me challenged because we talked the entire time we were running and I think the higher altitude added to me being a heavy-breather the whole way. My dream would be to have Kathy as my running partner EVERY day, but I'll take whatever time I can get. In addition to the company, another beautiful thing about being in Greeley this time of year is their trees were in full Fall color, while back in Fergus, we only had naked, bare trees. I got to extend my most favorite season on this vacation - lucky me!

By the time we got back, our hubbies were awake, while the kids were still snoozing. The four of us headed out to have breakfast at Starbucks. Can you say Pumpkin Spice Latte? Oh, my, what a perfect treat, plus you have to remember, there isn't a Starbucks within 50 miles of Fergus {GASP}! We returned from our caffeine-high just in time for Kathy to whip up a big breakfast for the kids.
We squeezed in some card-playing-time before lunch by playing Golf. Drake opted out, but I think after hearing the 7 of us laughing and carrying on, he secretly wished he would have played with us. Right, Drake?
I had to get a few pics in of these 4 fantastic kids together. They're all growing up WAY too fast {sniff, sniff}.
They are wonderful friends and for that, I am so grateful. The relationship these 4 have is truly a major reason we chose to spend our MEA weekend with the Bytnar Family.
After lunch, it was guys-only time. They loaded up in Stella, to take a drive up into the mountains to enjoy the scenery, but mostly to rev-up Stella through the hairpin switchbacks. Can you say testosterone? Vroom-vroom...
While the guys were doing their thing, we were getting in some quality girl-time in Loveland.
We kept the girls in suspense on the destination until we got to the movie theater, where we went to the movie Secretariat. We were nearly late, but the bonus was that we didn't have to sit through any boring previews. We had perfect seats for a heartwarming and wonderful movie. Seriously, my high for the day was being in that moment, sitting right where I was in the theater at Loveland. It wouldn't have mattered if the movie totally tanked (which it didn't). I turned and looked to my left and watched Abby, Darian & Kippy thoroughly engrossed in the movie and then turned to my right to see my Kathy. There I was sitting right beside my best friend, who I treasure so much. Talk about a blessing.

We did a little shopping after the movie... nothing like a little retail therapy to end a perfectly wonderful girls-only afternoon!

We switched from a girls-only and guys-only afternoon, to double-date night. The kids got to enjoy pizza, movies and hot-tub time at home, while the adults fancied up for an evening out. In hindsight, I feel like we failed at taking pictures because !SNAP! - we looked good. The issue was cocktail hour at the Bytnar Tavern went a little too long and we had to rush like crazy in the end to get to our dinner reservation. I really wish I would have taken my camera along with that night just to document the moment. However, the important thing was we were there together and I did get this one pic of Kathy & I dressed up, so it is all good.

I wanted to stay up all night just to make our time together last longer, but the mean-old-sleep-monster put an end to that bright idea. We got up at the butt-crack of dawn and were on the road back to Fergus by 5:00 AM on Sunday. The kids quickly settled back to sleep, while Steve & I had a chance to reflect on our time in Greeley.
I always have such a very hard time with goodbyes, but Kathy knows this. My girls know this and of course Steve knows it too. The tears seem to just flow and flow and have a life of their own. I am grateful for the time we do have together, really I am. I just get so emotional about when that time ends. I am so very appreciative for Steve driving us over 1700 in those 4 days. It was a wonderful vacation for sure with a lifetime of memories packed into it.
My Kathy...she is special to me, but the thing is she is special to Abby, Angelique and Steve, too. So I always call her MYKathy... just so my family knows I got special dibs on her.

I'm already mentally planning our next get-together in 2011, when we jointly celebrate our 20th anniversary with the Landmarks.

Thank you Bytnar family and a special thank you to Kathy, the events planner. IT WAS A 10!!