my week in review: 12/13-19//2013

Sharing the pictures I captured with my phone this past week and telling the stories behind them.

On Dec. 13th, which was St. Lucia Day, we went to IKEA for dinner. They served up a Swedish Julbord (pronounced yule-board), which is a Christmas smorgasbord filled with all sorts of fishy things and pickley things.

On the drive there, we had some fun trying to convince our kids that going to a furniture store for dinner was going to be worth the 1-1/2 hour ride. It's not just a furniture store. It's so much more!

We met up with some of our family including my cousin Kari, pictured here next to Kaitlin.

There was even special entertainment. It was quite nice. Totally worth the long drive to a furniture store for dinner.

And of course after dinner, we walked the store. Like there was even a chance we wouldn't.

Kaitlin's been asking to go visit this cute little baby since he was born last week. We finally got to meet him on Saturday. (He's the one I made that knock-off Pottery Barn growth chart for.)

I decided I wanted to make some of those delicious Rosettes that I enjoyed two weeks ago, so I borrowed the recipe and Rosette irons from my Rosette-making resident. Look at that old recipe card, covered in oil from all the many times he's used it while making Rosettes.

We went over to my mom's to make the Rosettes as well as some Krumkake.

In this picture Kaitlin and Oma are manning the Krumkake irons. The Krumkake turned out great and were delicious. 

The Rosettes on the other hand. They didn't turn out very pretty. Those things are HARD to make! Total new level of respect for my Rosette-making resident. Then the Rosettes got burned because someone put them in the oven to keep them away from the dog, then someone else pre-heated the oven without knowing the Rosettes were in there. So we didn't eat the Rosettes, but we had the experience of trying to make them, which is something every descendant of Scandinavians should at least try.

While we were there, we did some Christmas puzzling.

Sarah and I made snowflakes this week. I made so many that my hand is bruised from the scissors.

Sarah also helped me make some paper chains while we watched The Voice finale.

I made the snowflakes and paper chains for work. On Wednesday I had a Christmas party for my residents and I got it in my head to transform their community room into a Christmas winter wonderland.

I have parties for them throughout the year. But for these Christmas parties I close the doors and tape up plastic on the windows so that they can't see from the lobby into the community room. Then I go to work decorating the room. One of my joys is to see their expressions and hear their exclamations of how wonderful the room looks. 

I couldn't do it without my mom. Each year she has come and helped me decorate and serve. This year my aunt Barb came too. I'm glad they were both there setting the tables, because it took me a long time to hang all the snowflakes and garlands.

We use real tablecloths on the tables, not the usual plastic rolls. And set out our own dishes from home. Each year the residents tell me that I don't have to go through all the trouble of hauling our dishes from home. "Just use paper plates," they say. But that's part of what makes it special. It's worth the trouble I think.

Each year I've had entertainment for the residents. This year I was trying to figure out who to ask to entertain the residents when the local Kindergarten teacher called and asked if the kids could come and sing to the residents. I said, "can you come on the 18th at 2pm?!" They could, and they did. They were such little cuties! When they were done, they handed out cards with Christmas trees that they'd painted for the residents.

Mom and Barb did such a good job of plating the treats.

The residents asked me to keep the decorations up so they could enjoy them longer.

Remember how I thought I'd lost the stamp I made along with the carving tool? Well. I found it.

When I went to the store to return this box of Christmas lights, the worker-lady thought it felt funny and made too much noise when it was shook. She opened it up and there were my stamps & tool & ink. Because of course that's where you put your stamps & tools & ink when you are done using them. Gah!

I'm @annebickle on Instagram, linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


my week in review: 12/6-12//2013

Sharing the camera phone pictures from my week, telling their stories. Every Friday.

I put up the tree on Saturday morning. The past many years we have had a real tree AND a fake tree, but this year, due to budget cuts, we only have our fake tree. I was feeling kind of sad about that when I put it up. I've grown to like having a real tree.

This is my most favorite tree topper of all time. John made it in 2002, when he was in pre-school. It's topped one of our trees ever since.

After the tree was strung with lights and beads, they got to have at it with their ornaments. We've given them an ornament every years since they were born. Then JD and I hung our ornaments. We like to get an ornament for every year, a special memory or trip. 

We don't really have a theme to our tree, except maybe Family Memories Plus a Few Shiny Things

My favorite ornaments are the ones with photographs. Every year putting up the tree is like opening a time capsule.

The picture on the top left is JD when he was little. I remember, when we were first married and visiting his mom's for Christmas, seeing that ornament and thinking what a little cutie he was. And I thought how great it was that his mom kept it all those years and still put it out. His mom passed away in 2003 and the ornaments have just found their way to us this year. I was so happy to see it again and be able to put it up on our tree next to the pictures of our kids... and our neighbor girl (bottom right).

[bonus feature:]

"Mom!" John said somewhat urgently. 

I stopped putting up the ornaments and turned my attention to him. "What?" I asked.

"Why is Kloee on our Christmas tree?" he demanded. 

"Because she gave us the ornament," I replied, then added "besides, it's a memory."

As long as we have the ornament, we'll put it up. In fact...

Mail an ornament to Anne Bickle, PO Box 5744, Rochester, MN 55903 and we'll put it on our tree!

[end bonus feature] 

There was an ornament explosion on our tree. I'm pretty sure we can fit a few more ornaments on there.

Kitty Cat. Sitting there on the back of the couch, acting like you don't care. I know you do.

Early morning while I'm having coffee and Kaitlin is waiting for her ride to school. Sometimes when I see here, my heart just swells with love for her.

Artist trading cards are due this week. I didn't know what to do for the longest time. I decided to make a stamp, and stamp 12 of the same thing instead of making 12 separate drawings. I'd never made a stamp before, so there was a little bit of a learning curve, but I really enjoyed it.

I read this the morning after someone gave us an anonymous gift of money. They left it in a card and put it in our front door. The card was signed "from your family in Christ."

I have been having doubts about God's provision, losing hope. (Long story, but my husband works for a ministry where he has to raise money to get a paycheck and, well, let's just say, things have been tight for a long time.) The anonymous gift restored my hope. I'm so grateful for that person who obeyed the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I finished the trading cards and sent them off. Now I can't find the stamp I made... I think I might have thrown it away. So those things are truly limited editions.

It's been cold in Minnesota this week!
> > HOW COLD IS IT? < <

So cold that we put a blanket over the fireplace to try to stop the draft.

So cold that the butter I keep at room temperature is hard.

So cold that when the temperature reached 10 F, it was warming up.

So cold that Sarah and I put on Santa hats inside just to try to get warm. (Why are my front facing pictures always so grainy?)

Something that I like to do when it's cold is knit. Sarah asked me to teach her to knit a couple years ago. I love knitting with her.

Look what I got in the mail. I promise that I wrote the bonus feature before I got this ornament of Jessica's family in the mail on Thursday afternoon. It's like she read my mind. Now her family is hanging there on our Christmas tree with JD, my kids and Kloee.

Your ornament could be next!

I'm @annebickle on Instagram. Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

life rearranged


my week in review: 11/30-12/5//2013

Every week. Posting my camera phone photos. Telling the stories behind them. So that I can remember stuff. And because I don't have time to scrapbook. 

Saturday we had our Nelson women's Christmas get together with the women on my mom's side of the family. Here Aunt Barb is reading an article from her Ideals book, an article about Christmas that was originally printed in (Ladies Home Journal?) 1890.

It's kind of a tradition when we go to Aunt Barb's to choose a reading from one of her Ideals books. She has many of them. (I have many IKEA catalogs and she has many Ideals books. It's all good.) The Ideals book I was given to read from was printed in 1974. I was three when that thing came out. Those things are timeless.


my week in review: 11/22-29//2013

My week in review. I love these weekly posts. It's fun to look back on the week and memorialize the mundane as well as the monumental. There's a lot to be THANKFUL for.

Like this awesome piece of art. It's an original print from Kirstin Kallal Designs. You need to go check her out right now... it's okay, I'll still be here when you get back...

She has some amAYzing stuff, right? And you know what? She's a pretty worthy Words with Friends opponent, too.

[bonus feature:]

Kirstin and I got stuck on the wrong side of the mountain one time. Back when our families still lived in Europe,we were vacationing with several missionary families at a small ski village in Switzerland.


my week in review: 11/15-21//2013

Sharing my week's camera phone photos and the stories behind them.

Last week I gave you a sneak peek of the project I've been working on. And then I wrote all about it in this other post, so I won't repeat myself here.

It was a baby shower gift for our friend from church, Leah, who we have gotten to know because she and her husband work with the youth group. She has a special place in Kaitlin's heart, and therefore my own heart. Friday night was her baby shower.

We walked into the shower and the first thing we saw was a uterus on the wall. Obviously I needed to get a photo. It was a version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey, except we all pinned a sperm on the uterus. Then Leah, blindfolded, pinned her egg on the uterus. The covered sperm got the prize.


in which I reveal my latest project: a growth chart

Last week I gave you a sneak peek of the project I've been working on... here it is... the big reveal....


... drumrolls aren't as suspenseful on blogs, are they? ...

It's a growth chart board like the one we have. It's for a friend's baby shower gift. 

Measuring Sarah on our board.


"My Vacation to Florda" by Sarah

When I found this assignment in the papers that Sarah (age 9) brought home from school, I was pretty much in awe of her writing ability and her imagination. I knew I wanted to preserve it here, with her own handwriting, punctuation and spelling.


my week in review: 11/8-14//2013

Every week, I share my week's camera phone photos and the stories behind them. Throwing in a bonus feature here or there. Because I love bonus features. And sometimes because, as is the case this week, I hardly took any photos.

[bonus feature about bonus features:]

The other night we were watching a very disappointing movie on Blu-ray. It could have been so good, but it fell far short of our expectations. At some point in the middle of the disappointing movie I said somewhat disgustedly, "I bet this movie doesn't have any bonus features!" Then I added, "even if it did have bonus features, I wouldn't want to watch them!" That's how truly bad it was.

After a minute I retracted my threat. Of course I'd watch the bonus features! What was I thinking?

[end bonus feature about bonus features]

John and I photo bombed Kaitlin as she was taking selfies in the mirror at the hotel room before our nephew's wedding on Saturday night. 


my week in review: 11/1-7//2013

Sharing my camera phone photos, telling their stories.

My sister and I hit up the new DSW store with my birthday gift certificate. It was a little stressful... so many shoes to choose from. Not that I'm complaining. Because I'm not. Because SHOES!


my week in review: 10/25-31//2013

Sharing my camera phone photos and my stories behind them. 

Last Friday was my birthday. I included a photo of my breakfast in bed at the end of my week in review. Now, here's the rest of my day... and week...

Kaitlin saw this while we were shopping together a while ago. She showed it to me, saying it was perfect for me. 


five minutes: together

Five Minute FridayFor five minutes people everywhere write about a topic that Lisa-Jo posts on Thursday night. Write on the given topic for five minutes and see what happens. That's the whole point. Then link up on Lisa-Jo's blog to see what other people have come up with. The one hard and fast rule is that you have to visit the person who posted before you and leave them a comment. Pretty simple. Pretty fun.

Friday's (it was my birthday, I'm cutting myself some slack... obviously) topic was: TOGETHER.


She sat there with silent tears streaming down her face. It was too hard. She didn't know how she would get through this. She didn't think she had it in her.

People passed her without thought, unaware of her struggle. They hurried by, preoccupied with their thoughts and their schedules. She was alone. Overwhelmed, she melted into a pool of doubt and self-consciousness.

The woman saw her from a distance, watched her weeping, slowed down as she approached the girl. Gently the woman put her hand on the girl's shoulder. Startled, the girl looked up and saw hope in the woman's eyes.

"We can figure this out together," the woman said offering her hand and her heart.


my week in review: 10/18-25//2013

sharing my week in camera phone photos and the stories behind them

Isn't she so cute??!! Look how happy she is. So proud of her beehive and cat's eyes.

Sarah was going to be a cowgirl for Halloween, but then Disney Channel had a little feature on how to look like a biker chick for Halloween. Sarah learned how to do a beehive and cat's eyes. What would we do without Disney Channel? We wouldn't look like biker chicks from the 80's for one thing.


five minutes: laundry

Lisa-Jo's prompt this week is LAUNDRY. Write for five minutes. No editing. Hit publish. Link up to all the other people writing about laundry for five minutes. Visit the person who linked up right before you did and leave a comment. That's it. That's Five Minute Friday.

Okay? LAUNDRY... Ready. Set. Go!

Laundry. Dirty laundry. Clean laundry. Laundry waiting to be folded. Waiting to be brought upstairs. Waiting to be put away. Laundry on the floor, dirtied, waiting to be cleaned once more.

It's a chore I do not like. Not because it's difficult to do. But because it's never ending. Especially with kids in the house. Kids in sports.

Sometimes, when I load the washer with whites I think of the bible verse that says that God washes our sins whiter than snow. That amazes me. Especially when I look at my kids' dirty white socks. God takes the dirty parts of my life, the sin that entangles me, and He is able to get it cleaner than brand new. Whiter than snow.

I live in Minnesota. I know the beauty of freshly fallen snow. The purity of it. That metaphor speaks to me.

As I look at my family's endless laundry pile sitting in front of our TV waiting for someone to fold it, I think of God's endless love for me. Forgiving my dirty laundry, over and over again.

It makes doing laundry a little bit more bearable.


Five Minute Friday

my week in review:10/11-17

sharing my week's camera phone pictures and the stories behind them.

I saw this on my way out of a store on Friday afternoon. It cracked me up. I posted it on IG and on my Facebook page and I noticed a curious thing: none of Kaitlin's friends liked it. It occurred to me that they wouldn't even get it. So, if you get it, you're probably in my generation. If you don't get it, then let me introduce you to Nicole Richie's dad, Lionel, and his 1984 hit song, Hello.


thoughts about sharing Facebook with my daughter

For the past two years, I've shared my Facebook profile with my daughter Kaitlin. Now that she's turning thirteen, she will get her own account. Thirteen is the age that Facebook thinks people are ready to have an account. Not that I advocate letting Facebook make decisions for my family, but when my daughter was ten and "the only one of my friends who doesn't have a Facebook!," I thought that thirteen sounded better than ten.

Besides, I have a thing about entering false birth dates to get something you want.

Over the course of two years, I've been asked several times about sharing my profile with my daughter. Usually with an accompanying proclamation of how hard it must be.

I don't know. It wasn't that hard. Though it did definitely change my experience of Facebook. And that's not such a bad thing, actually.


five minutes: ordinary

Write for five minutes. Write on the topic given by Lisa-Jo Baker each Friday. No editing or polishing. Just write and publish. Then link up with all the other brave people who are doing the same thing.

Today's topic: ORDINARY


Sometimes I think that ordinary has gotten a bad rap. No one wants anything ordinary anymore, including me.

People all over Pinterest are ditching the ordinary for the extraordinary. Entertaining is not so simple any more. I'm embarrassed by my ordinary offerings to my guests when I look over the food boards.

But then, it strikes me that extraordinary is just extra ordinary.

Maybe ordinary isn't bad. Maybe the extra in extraordinary isn't taking decorations to the pinnable level, but the extra smile that the kid gets when they make (unpinnable) decorations themselves. Or, maybe it's the extra time you have to enjoy the company when you offer something simple.

There is extra in the ordinary.

I need to remember that.


my week in review: 10/4-10//2013

Monday night I made the 1-1/2 hour drive to Mankato to watch John's game. I don't usually go to the Mankato games, but both teams were 5-0, so it was a big game. And that's what moms do. The final score was 22-20. We lost a heartbreaker.


five minutes: write

Five Minute FridayFive Minute Friday is a linky thing where you write for five minutes on a given topic. The rule is that you have to just write, no editing or polishing. Just write what comes to mind and see what happens. The topic is posted by Lisa-Jo Baker every Friday and then people everywhere write posts on that given topic. 

Today's topic is: WRITE

[Ready. Set. GO!]

I think it's interesting that the first time I decided to join the Five Minute Friday thing, the topic is "write." The reason I decided to join in is because I want to practice my writing.

I love to write. It feels right to me to write. Sometimes I'll write my thoughts when I can't express them. Just getting it down and out of my head is helpful. I am an introvert. It makes sense.

I think I have a story in me that I can write. My own story for sure. Other times, I think I might have more stories than my own.

I am afraid of failure. There. I said it. I want to write, but I don't want to fail. I want to do a great many things, but don't want to fail at them.


Oh man! That five minutes was fast! I can see that I need practice getting my thoughts out faster. Of course, that's why I like writing over talking, because I can edit and polish my words when I write. This is so much more raw. Not sure that I like it, but this exercise might be good for me.

my week in review: 9/27-10/3//2013

 Watching the Friday night varsity Homecoming football game with friends.


there's waiting in the wings

When Kaitlin brought home her caterpillar for the monarch life cycle project in science class, I think I was more excited about her homework than she was. I couldn't wait to see the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. I would be excited about it anyways, but a couple years ago I read a book that had me thinking about the whole process.

No, not Eric Carle's beautifully illustrated book, though when we ran out of milkweed I kept thinking of his very hungry caterpillar. It was a book that my counselor suggested I read called When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. In it, she speaks of "the spiritual act of cocooning." She emphasizes the importance of not just waiting, but doing the work of waiting. The transformation happens in the waiting, in the cocoon.

While watching Bon Qui Qui Jr. transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly, I dusted off Sue Monk Kidd's book and reread the passages that I'd underlined when I'd read it a couple years ago. I underlined a few more passages as I skimmed over what had spoken to me then. Her writing of the transformative work in the cocoon is why I have a tattoo of a butterfly on my shoulder. It touched my heart then, and it's touched it once again.

The following are her words, not mine. I can't express it any better than she does:


Happy Dance!

The Mercy House vehicle has been fully funded!

Now we can get on to Phase 2 of the in(mercy) project: 
helping them get classroom additions!

Thanks for your help.


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