Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Family Get-Together

Last weekend Dad's side of the family all came up for a day or so. I didn't get that many pictures, but we sure kept busy!
We played Compatibility.
We played broomball and went snow tubing. We went on a sleigh ride and sang songs.
We ate. This is our soup night. We had Broccoli-Cheese, 13 Bean, and Wild-Rice-Chicken. Yuuuummmmy!
We watched Finding Nemo (3 times).
And did lots of visiting.

Christmas Day Dinner

For Christmas we had our immediate family up, plus our international student-family that were in town over at my parent's place.

We ate ham and bread and cookies.
We played board games and broomball.
We watched Finding Nemo.
It was a great, relaxing day.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


A week ago Monday, I went over to my mom's to help make cookies. Yum! I'm hungry for some more already!

And check out this display of cookies too.

Personality Tests

I really like personality tests....those quizzes and questions that "determine" who you are.....your likes and dislikes...your leadership style....your relationship style. I'm not sure they are always accurate, but the mind is adaptable, and within a few minutes I'm convinced "Oh yes! That IS like me."

So this morning, while I was working on a project, I got to thinking about my working style...and about others too.

I suppose there's
  • The Minimalist. The person who doesn't have much and therefore doesn't spread out much when working. Only the bare minimum on the desk, at home, by the computer, or in the kitchen. This is my mother-in-law.
  • The Orginizationalist (otherwise known as the neat freak). This is like my Grandma....who had everything stored in boxes, labeled clearly (and in straight handwriting), wrapped in tissue, and very easily accessable. I love this, but haven't accomplished it yet.
  • The Perfectionist. This person does things in a very detailed manner....perhaps a bit time consuming, but everything turns out pretty...wether making cards or cooking a dessert or sewing a project or painting a can count on them to turn out a nice product. But they can't get much done around me. :) This is my friend Rena.
  • The Experienced. This person maybe isn't one style, but has had so much experience, they can be flexible and choose whichever style fits the need. Very handy. This is my mom.

And then there's me...

  • The List-Maker-Spreader-Outer.

For any given can pretty much tell where I'm working because I will take over the whole space given to me. Not that I don't like to share's just I tend to like to see all my options/materials/results all at once. For card making, I take over the whole table AND floor space nearby. For cooking, I use just about every spoon in the drawer (mostly because I am forgetful and use one once and throw it in the dishwater forgetting I will need it again soon) and I will take out every ingredient so I can see what I need. For record keeping, I will lay out little piles of paper all around me in a great big circle....organized piles...but piles none-the-less.

For any task ahead....I love making lists. You will find little scraps of paper tucked all over in "safe places" that I forget about. Lists for groceries. Lists for financial goals. Lists for things to do today. Lists for class ideas. Lists for crafts I want to do someday. Lists for game ideas. Lists for weekly menus. Lists for outreach ideas or projects or colors I like or books to read...and it goes on. Too bad I tend to loose my lists...because really they're quite handy. I must admit, though, it's pretty fun to be sorting through paper and then come across a really cool list of ideas. I get all excited again about the ideas...and maybe impliment one.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Christmas!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, 
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

I have lots of pictures to share, but haven't had time to upload them yet. I took some time off work to go help Mom and Dad get ready for our family gathering....we made cookies and cleaned and visited. It was fun to relax that way and take some time off.

The rest of the week, I've had to work.

Our family came up a couple days ago, so yesterday we spent a fun Christmas Day over at Dad and Mom's. Our nieces have been quite entertaining!

We're getting ready to move into the New Church Building today, and will have our first service there Sunday.

So, have a wonderful weekend, take time to enjoy the season God has created and give Him thanks!

I'll catch up with you later :)


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Laundry Time

I was very pleased to figure out this economical way to not only dry my clothes, but also humidify our house! It makes me want to wander around the house and mutter "Brilliant....brilliant!"

Friday, December 19, 2008

How to make paper snowflakes

This is how I like to make paper snowflakes....
Start with an 8.5 x 11 piece of papper and fold up a corner to make a square.

Cut it off from the big piece of paper.
Fold the square of paper in half to make a rectangle.

And then fold it in half again to make a small square. This is so you have a center crease down the middle. Then open it up to the rectangle again.

This is the trickiest step. You'll want to fold the paper over the middle crease line to make a kite-shape. (See next picture) You do this by starting with the Right side and folding it past the center crease, and then folding the left hand side over that so the edges meet.
It looks like a heart if you turn it around.
You fold the "heart" in half. Almost there now.
And you cut off the top along the flat line.
And now you're ready to make it into a snowflake!
If I cut it like this....
And like this....
It turns out like this! (unfolded)
And if I do it like this....
It looks like this!

Our Story of India

I can't believe it's already been a week since we've been home. We've gone back to work, cleaned, been snowed on, visited friends and family, and basically got back into some sort of routine. It seems unbelievable that we went all the way to India and back. The more I re-tell the story to co-workers and friends, the more amazing it is to see how God was watching over us the whole time.

So, for memories sake....I will tell it one more time :)

Once upon a time, a husband and wife decided to take a trip across the world to visit family. They prepared paper-work, bought tickets, and packed 4 great big suitcases. They shopped for good deals on chocolate and gifts. They took care of home chores before they left. They made phone calls and scheduled appointments, until it was time to go....

November 7th, 2008 - Left home to drive 4 hours and attend Grandma's funeral Saturday, visit family, and fly out Monday.

November 10th - Attended the burial, 1/2 hour later arrived at airport and went through security and luggage check. No problems. On our way to Chicago, first stop.

7:30pm - Arrive in Chicago. Change terminals. Go through security check again. Wait for plane.

9:00 - Plane arrives. Get in line to have tickets checked again and passports.

9:10pm - Ticket agent scans Mathew's passport and turns white.
"You can't get on this don't have a vaild US VISA."
"Well, yes we do. It's just in paperwork, see?" (Show him all the documents etc we are carrying)
"No. You need a London VISA since you just have it in paperwork. You can't get on this plane."

9:30pm - Our 4 suitcases are taken off the plane, plopped on a cart. We are handed a contact sheet for the British Counselate in downtown Chicago, and the gate closes. We are left in a terminal that is shutting down, lights are turning off, paperwork in hand, staring at one another.

10pm - We call a friend who lives in Chicago (thanks God) and he comes to pick us up. We tell the story. We make a plan. We call the ticket agency to switch our tickets to the next night's flight.

Tuesday, Nov. 11th - We find the counselate office and tell them our story and ask for a London VISA. We find out, in order to get a VISA, we must fill out this stack of paperwork, file online, schedule a fingerprinting appointment, and turn it all back in between 9 and 10 am only, to be picked up at 4pm. We get the first fingerprint appointment we can get....Friday.

Tuesday, 4pm - We drive the 1 hour drive to the fingerprinting office to see if we can get in early. They are closed.... for Veteran's Day.

Wednesday, Nov 12th - We rise early in order to get over to the office first thing. We arrive and they let us through no problem. We are done in 5 minutes. Now we just have to get back to the Counselate by 10am.

9:45am - Traffic is slow, but we make it back. We hurry in and hand over our paperwork. The watchmen calmly smiles and says we will have our VISA in 15 least by Thanksgiving. What?! Well, in order to get it by 4pm (one day) you have to go through a VISA processing service.

9:55am - We zoom over to the service center. They look over our paperwork, stamp and seal it. They look at the clock and it is 10:05am. Sorry sir, we can't turn it in till tomorrow. We try our best to plead with them that we need it today and it's only 5 minutes....but it doesn't work. We call the ticket agency and change our tickets to Thursday night. We decide to go to Chinatown for fun tomorrow.

Thursday, Nov 13th - We are waiting for a call to pick up our VISA. No call. We go to Chinatown. No call. We wait till 4:30pm. No call. So we call.
"Sorry sir, the counselate closed for an unexpected holiday yesterday, so you will get your VISA Friday."
Amazing. At the beginning of the week, we were stressed, but by this point, we just break into crazy laughter. This can't be happening.

Thursday evening - We call to change our tickets again. We have to be in India at the lateset, on Monday, to attend an appointment for Mathew's US VISA so he can come back.

"Sorry sir, the flights for the weekend are booked. The earliest we can fly you out is Monday. You'll have to change your appointment date."
We go online to change our appointment date. Turns out we have to give them 2 business days to process it, and since India is a day ahead of us, we are too late. We can't change the appointment. If we can't make the appointmet, Mathew can't get his VISA, and he can't come back. There is nothing we can do until tomorrow.

Friday, Nov 14th - We go to the zoo to use up time. 4:30 we get Mathew's London VISA. 9pm we go to the airport. We hope someone doesn't show up for the flight....hope someone cancels. Nobody does. We ask if we can be put on a waiting list. We are told there already is one quite long. The ticket lady says we could take a flight to London (it's not full) and wait there for a flight to India (this is the one that is overbooked)....but the problem is we have the wrong VISA....we have a type C and to wait in London you need a type D. Wow.

10pm - We head back to the apartment. We decided to just cancel the trip and go a month later when we can get a new appointment date, or recieve a travel VISA in the mail that we had hoped would come before our trip. We find the best way to get back from Chicago is by train.

Saturday, Nov 15th - We board the train at noon. It's a fun ride. We arrive in Mpls late and go to sister's place.

Sunday, Nov 16th - We get up early enough to drive the 4 hours home, to get there in time for church.

10am - We arrive home. We walk in the front door, and there on the table is our mail. On the top of the pile is a is from the US is Mathew's travel VISA. It arrived Saturday. It means we could've travelled after all, because it means we don't need an appointment. But we are exhausted now.

Sunday afternoon - We call about changing our tickets to January. It turns out, we can't. We would have to cancel these tickets and re-buy them. It means a bunch more hassel. Packing again. Taking the time off work again. And so....we look into turning around and going back.

Sunday, midnight - Dad drives us down to the cities again.

7am - We board the train back to Chicago ( because we used up that part of our plane ticket already, and they won't re-fund us).

2pm - We arrive back in Chicago and go to the airport. We board the plane. We fly to India.

Wednesday, Nov 19th - We arrive in India. No problems. We spend 3 weeks visiting family, eating food, shopping, and looking around. We weren't near the terroist attacks, but we watched it on the news. We were asked multiple times
"Is the economy really that terrible in America?"
"Isn't it great that Obama got elected?!"
"Do all American girls wear mini skirts and short shirts all the time?"
(To Mathew) "Will your hair turn blonde too?"

It was a great trip. The only sad part was the Saturday before we left, Mathew's Grandma got sick and went to the hospital. His dad went the 8hr bus ride to see her, since it was serious. She died Tuesday afternoon.

December 10th we headed back to the United States. We were nervous, I must say, but everything went smoothly. All our paperwork was correct this time. We arrived right before a big weekend snow-storm....Welcome to Minnesota!

Things we are thankful to God for:
  • That we got stuck in Chicago and not London or Minneapolis...since the British counselate was right there.
  • That we had generous friends who let us crash at their place a whole week, and drove us around everywhere.
  • That we could see Chinatown.
  • That we were able to get the VISA.
  • That we got to ride the train.
  • That we got the travel VISA in the mail.
  • That we were able to see Amachee (Grandma) before she passed away.
  • For protection from the terrorists.
  • For the wonderful friends and family we met over there.
  • For a safe trip back.
And that was our trip to India!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Home Decor

(click above to listen to Handel's piece)

I like how a few touches here and there can make a room so cheerful and cozy!

I cut out some snowflakes to hang, along with some tiny red balls.

The picture doesn't do it quite justice, but it matches the piano top and the living room table. I like the red. :)

And a few candles and we're done. I really can get used to this minimalist style!

It's nice to have the house clean too....I should take pictures of each room...and you would sigh and say, ah nice, and then I would show you the picture of our porch, and you would jump and say, Oh, that's why everything else is's all here!


My mom had some leftover mashed potatoes that she made into lefse. (I love lefse) She was so nice she gave us a fresh packet of it...oh how I looked forward to eating it!

I thought we'd have it for I buttered it and got out my cinnamon-sugar jar (because I really like it with cinnamon sugar on top)...but there wasn't cinnamon mixed in I did that first. Then, I sprinkled it and rolled it up and put it on the table. *drool*

I was so ready for dessert I took a big bite of mine right away....and was SOOOOOO dissapointed!

Turns out...the reason there was no cinnamon in the sugar was it was SALT...not sugar !

And that is what happens when I don't cook at home for a month.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happenings Around Here

Well, I think we've caught up on sleep since our trip...and the suitcases are unpacked and most of the laundry done. There are still some spots in the house that need clean up, but it's the kind of stuff that I can work on slowly.
Mom and Dad surprised us with Christmas lights in our dining room. I'm a big fan of Christmas lights....I think it has alot to do with long winter nights and dark, cold mornings, as well as lots of memories as a kid. So, I get up early and turn them on, make us a couple cups of tea, and we go through our morning routine in a nice cozy Christmas-lit way.
Other December news....though I'm assuming this is old news thanks to my brother's engagement! You'll have to go to his blog and see the video story. :) We're looking forward to their visit soon! I have my head buzzing with all sorts of things to remember and plan before the week is up...but I'm afraid quite a bit of it will get lost before I'm done! ha
This year I did a little winter decoration in my house....nothing fancy...but nice and simple yet festive enough for us. I'll try and get some good pictures later.
This weekend we had a nice big snowstorm...13 inches or was great. I really don't mind coming back to snow. The only thing I that I can tell is different, is the amount of sunlight here vs. India that we got at this season. I think it's a bit hard for my body to adjust still to the lack of sunshine...but I'm trying to make up for it by going outside in the afternoons alot.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bread Making

The other night I was hungry for bread....and since we didn't have any in the house, I thought I could make some quick dinner rolls for supper. It's one of my favorite recipes. I like adding a melted mixture of honey and butter on the top near the end for a nice glaze.

While I was using that cookbook....I saw this other recipe...and it looked really good too...and I've always wanted to try making pretzels!

It said to keep the dough for an hour in a draft-free, warm place. Hmm....draft-free.....ah yes! Brilliant!

They turned out just nice...all 12 of them. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We're Back

Just a quick note to say we made it safely back home!

We arrived with no problems by 10pm Wednesday night in Mpls. We came back home tonight at 8pm after sleeping in and visiting the grandparents while down there.

I'm glad for the snow!

I'll catch up with pictures and stories later.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Going Home

This is Pu (flowers)
We've been here for 21's time to go home again...back to snow and holidays and family and friends and work....away from warm temps and family and friends and new things.

We were planning a couple more things before we left, but it didn't work out. Saturday night we recieved a call that Mathew's grandma was serisouly on short notice, his dad left on the bus to go back to Kerala. Since we leave on Wednesday, we couldn't go....and since Papa is gone, we cancelled our plans to go to an engagement, a birthday party, and take a family picture.

It's been an interesting trip with lots of memories. Please pray for our safe travel, for his Grandma and family during this time, and for the continued Bible openess here.

Take care!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Things to Remember India By...

Musical Washing Machines

New Foods

Ice Cream in a box

Eating by hand

Card games and family...


Stray dogs and chalk drawings at almost every door


Monday, December 8, 2008

Backwards Things

In India....things are backwards from what I'm used to....
Their facuets turn the opposite way....therefore I blasted myself with cold water a couple times.

For light switches, down is on and up is off.

Door locks turn right to lock instead of left.

I've gotten used to alot of things while here, but these opposites are one thing I have not....I am constantly flipping switches the wrong way and locking myself in, and having cold water showers!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Catching Up...

Just thought I'd better post and catch up. Sadly, I have no pictures to add to this post, so just stories and words.... :) .... the pictures take too long to upload and I'm not at this computer long enough for that. So, I will post a ton when we get home ha ha.

We went to Kerala and back by bus. Long and bumpy but it was overnight so we slept part of the way. Kerala is very green...and that is where they grow rubber, tea, pineapple, and really is very beautiful.

While there, we visited alot of family....stayed at Mathew's Auntie's house 2 nights, and Uncle's house 3 nights. This time, it really was our Aunt and the sense....anyone older than me you call Auntie or Uncle this time, it really WAS a relative. We had lots of fun, played games and laughed alot.

We came back Sunday morning at 5:30am. We mostly slept and ate that day. The food here has been great, but it will be nice to be back home and have a lighter eating schedule! ha. I think all 5 of us (Me, Mathew, Brother, and his parents) have all put on weight since Mathew's mom has wanted to cook EVERYTHING she knows for us as long as we are here!

Yesterday another Auntie (not related) came over and spent the day. We (well, I mostly listened because I don't know the language) were able to have a long Bible talk that afternoon with Amma and Auntie. It's really been a neat experience, as in we've actually had quite a few opportunities to have Bible studies with many of Mathew's family. Please continue praying for their growth here. Their hearts are really open to the truth.

We've also been taught a new card game that we've enjoyed trying to beat each other at. We've stayed up past midnight on more than one night doing just that!

I've picked up more of their language (Malayalam), which has been fun. The really nice thing about Mathew's family, is they love to laugh, so instead of being upset at my grammer and manner mistakes, they find it extremely hilarious....which is funny for me too then. So even if we aren't getting as much exercise here in the gym sense, we sure have had our fill of belly laughs!

So....the pace is picking up here before we go. Lost more visiting and outings and shopping and eating and playing. I hardly can believe it's December already....of course, when it's 70 degrees and sunny every day, it's hard to remember!

Hope all is well with you all....I'll try and post again before we go....maybe even get a few pictures up....

Take care,


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