Home » Archive by category "30 Days"

30 Things I Love: Christmas Music

Christmas Music

I love Christmas music! Every year, I cannot wait until the local radio stations, and Sirius Satellite radio start playing Christmas selections.

The music in the photo is just a tiny representation of my collection. I love listening to winter songs, Christmas songs, and carols performed by many different groups and in different styles. Maybe it’s the lyrics that are always positive…no one is dying, except when Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, relationships are flourishing or being mended, and how can you not be inspired by a capella renditions Silent Night or O Holy Night?

When I am stressed, I listen to music which helps to calm me. Before my first experience flying on an airplane without Jonathan, I needed to redo my playlist on my iPod so I would have relaxing music during my flight. Looking at what music was available, I decided to put Christmas music on there. In August. The jazz of Vince Guaraldi’s soundtrack for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is so soothingly familiar, and brings happy memories of watching the Charlie Brown specials on TV when I was little. The sounds of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra go from a mellow synthesized orchestral sound to rock. Mannheim Steamrollers sound is also good for calming me. Who knows…when I need to fly in 2015, I may still have Christmas music on my headphones!

I also love singing Christmas choral arrangements with the church choir. The older madrigal style pieces really challenge us, but they are some of my favorite songs because of the harmonies. I always look forward to the candlelight Christmas Eve service, and singing Silent Night in harmony. Most years I have goosebumps, and some years, there are tears. It is such an emotional time. I love when we end that service with the singing of Joy to the World. It sets the tone for the rest of our Christmas celebrations. I love how Christmas music makes me feel!

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs or albums?

We made it to the last day of the 30 Things I Love! Thank you for coming on this little journey with me!

The complete list of the 30 Things is listed here:

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Day 25: Sisters

Day 26: My Minivan

Day 27: My Daughters

Day 28: Viktoria

Day 29: Agriculture Organizations

Day 30: Christmas Music

30 Things I Love: Viktoria

Viktoria

Viktoria & Kevin in the Pyrenees and Viktoria at the Rhine River. The signs on the wall are flood markings

I love my German daughter, Viktoria! She lived with us during the 2010-2011 school year as a participant in International Experience, an exchange student program.

Jonathan and I had wanted to host a foreign exchange student, but also wanted to wait until the girls were older. When it was time, we filled out an application, and after we were accepted, we needed to go through profiles and choose our top 3. Both Jonathan and I kept looking at Viktoria’s profile, and put her on our list. Little did we know how good of a choice that would be!

When you host an exchange student, there are certain hoops you must jump through. Home inspection, back ground checks…many of the same types of things we have gone through to become foster parents. As a mom, it is comforting to know that the families have been checked out to make sure the students are in a safe environment. We sent photos to Viktoria and her family of our house, her room, and us…hoping that she would be okay living on the farm.

Finally, the day of her arrival came. We went to the airport to meet her flight, nervously waiting. Would she like us? Would we get along well? We had heard plenty of horror stories, and were a bit worried about how this year would go. When Viktoria got to baggage claim, we were so happy to finally meet her. We got the awkward greetings out of the way, and started heading for the van. Getting to know Viktoria was easy. Her English was perfect! I was so afraid that we wouldn’t be able to understand each other. It turns out that our Minnesotan confused her more at first than her accent confused us. Apparently, the term “hot dish” doesn’t translate well.

I love Viktoria’s compassion for others, her gift of song, and her positive personality. She loves to tease just as much as the rest of us, yet she also knows when to be a friend who just listens. She touched many lives while she was living with us, from fellow students to members of our church. She has a beautiful singing voice, and was able to be the soloist for Anna’s wedding this summer. Unfortunately, she couldn’t be here in person, but thanks to technology, she was still able to sing for Anna and Doug.

Viktoria has come back to see us once after her exchange experience ended. Now it is our turn to go see her! We’re pretty excited to be able to visit her and her family soon! After hosting her parents for just over a week at the end of her stay with us, I am really looking forward to seeing them as well! I am so thankful that Jonathan and I decided to host an exchange student, and because of that, we have a daughter in Germany.

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Day 25: Sisters

Day 26: My Minivan

Day 27: My Daughters

Day 28: Viktoria

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

30 Things I Love: My Daughters

Daughters

I love my daughters! Each one has their own personality, their own quirks, and their own style. I love how they love each other, and the joy they bring to our family.

Every year, we would take back to school photos on the first day of school. The photo above is from Anna’s senior year in high school. It is so fun to look back and see how the girls have changed! The things that haven’t changed are their love and support for each other. I am so thankful for that! Every now and then, I get messages from one that says, “my sisters and I have been discussing…”

Anna graduated from college a year ago. She married Doug in June, and they live in Kentucky where he is attending medical school. Anna is giving music lessons at a local music store, is the lesson coordinator for the store, and sells Mary-Kay. They have been busy making friends with other students and their significant others, as well as navigating all that you need to when moving to a completely different area. They have found a church where they feel welcomed, which is awesome. I miss Anna and Doug, but I’m thankful they are just a phone call or text or email or Skype or Facetime away. Anna also blogs at Anna E. Meyer where she shares about her faith, her writing, and life with Multiple Sclerosis. She has a pretty good attitude about life, which is one of the things most people love about her.

Christina graduated from college in May with a degree in theater, and an emphasis on costume design. She moved out to Custer, SD right after graduation to work summer stock theater at the Black Hills Playhouse. After the summer run ended, she was at home for about a month before moving to New York City. She lives with the other three theater graduates from Augustana College, which makes her move a little easier for me to handle. She can now say she has designed a show in New York City after being the costume designer for a community theater production! So far, she is loving life in NYC, and is making new friends in the theater world…some who have ties back to Augustana College. Christina is learning how to get around in New York, and I’m hoping that we’ll get the chance to visit her out there before too long. It would be fun to see what she sees every day, and to learn a little more about the city she now calls home.

Laura is living in Sioux Falls where she shares a house with some of her friends from the University of Sioux Falls. We asked her to take the fall semester off to help us with harvest, and she did. Jonathan had her driving semis, tractors, climbing grain bins…she did pretty much everything except for run the combine. She was also a huge help when it came to adjusting to our new foster son. He came the day we were planning to start harvest, and I was a little overwhelmed. Laura was great at stepping in to the jobs I normally do to help set up augers and get things ready to go, as well as entertaining the boy so I could go to the bathroom! I am so thankful that she was willing to come home to work this fall! Laura is also my favorite shopping partner (she shares my love of shoes), and I love hanging out with her when I can. I am so thankful that she is only a couple hours’ drive away instead of a plane ride away. It makes my mommy heart hurt to have my girls spread so far away!

When the girls were born, we had all kinds of dreams about who they would be, and what they would be like when they were grown. We’ve had many ups and downs, like a lot of other families, and I am thankful that we are close. My daughters truly are day brighteners and heart warmers!

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Day 25: Sisters

Day 26: My Minivan

Day 27: My Daughters

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

 

 

30 Things I Love: My Minivan

Chrysler Minivan

I love my minivan. I know many don’t think they are ‘cool’, but I love it! Our current van is a 2008 Chrysler Town & Country with 211,000 miles…and counting.

This minivan is the 4th one we’ve owned. I love how many people you can pack in and still be comfortable, especially in our current van. Besides people, it’s moved our girls to and from college every year since 2009. If I take out the swivel bucket seats in the center, I can fit a twin size box spring and mattress along with the bed frame, and multiple boxes. I’ve also hauled many farm parts, bags of seed, and tools. This van has been where no minivan was designed to go, but where you need it to go on a farm. However, I do think my next van should have a lift kit. It would make it much easier to go through fields and snow drifts!

Besides the work it’s done for hauling things, we’ve had this van all over the United States. I’ve said many times how I don’t like to fly, and prefer to drive. This van has been to northern Minnesota, South Padre Island in Texas, the northern California coast, and Point Pleasant Beach in New Jersey. I can’t tell you how many times it has criss-crossed Minnesota, been through South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois. It’s been a safe, comfortable ride through blizzards, severe thunderstorms, 112 degree highs, and -32 lows.

I was pretty excited to pass the 200,000 mile mark on this van. I’ve never reached that mileage in a vehicle before, because I usually hit a deer right before that milestone. This year, I came close, but avoided the Bambi encounters, thankfully. While I hope to get many more miles on this van, I have started thinking about what type of vehicle I want next, now that our girls are grown. I keep coming back to the comfort, fuel mileage, and cargo benefits of minivans. I may not look like the coolest woman out there, but let me tell you, the sound system handles Sirius Satellite Radio’s 80’s on 8 just fine.

What is your favorite vehicle, and why?

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Day 25: Sisters

Day 26: My Minivan

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

30 Things I Love: My Sisters

Sisters

I love my sisters. We love hanging out with each other whether it is at family gatherings, or on sister weekends. Since we live in different areas of the state, we don’t get to see each other often enough!

We also have two brothers, and we love them as well, but there is nothing like the bond between sisters. Have you ever hung out with someone so much that you start to finish each others sentences, or know what they are thinking before they even say it? That’s how it is with my sisters. We have stuck by each other through thick and thin…literally and figuratively…and have supported each other through medical issues, job transitions, and the typical tough parts of life. Those things draw us closer together, and make the joyful parts of life sweeter.

My sisters and I love good jokes, good food, and good stories. We laugh. A lot. We’ve been know to text each other late into the night when we’re apart, or go looking for the super moon at 2 am when on a sister’s weekend. We always stay up too late talking, and we never seem to run out of things to talk about. We cherish those conversations, and the time spent together.

One of our favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas. We reference it quite often, even in the summer. The best part about it? When Betty and Judy Haynes (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen’s voice double) sing the song, “Sisters”.  Those times when we say the same thing at the same time? We sing the song. Those times when we all do the exact same thing at the exact same time? We sing the song. Those times when our family looks at us as if we’re completely nuts as we’re laughing hysterically at an inside joke? We sing the song.

Ahhh. I love my sisters!

 

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Day 25: Sisters

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

30 Things I Love: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! I love the time spent in reflection of all the good in our lives. I love the time spent with friends or family or both. And, let’s be honest, I love the food.

As we pause to give thanks for the food on our tables, remember those who have labored to grow the food so we can stuff ourselves silly. Let us also remember those who are not with family…our military, those who are working, or those who could not travel home to be with loved ones.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, my readers, for your comments, likes, and for reading my posts. I am grateful for your support.

Wishing you a day filled with blessings!

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Day 24: Thanksgiving

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

 

 

30 Things I Love: Clouds

Clouds

I’ve been accused of walking around with my head in the clouds, but sometimes I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I love watching cloud formations changing as they move across the sky. The bonus is when the sun kisses the clouds as it sets.

The photo above was taken when Anna and I were on our way home from an appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. When you’re heading west in prairie country, it is impossible to miss a gorgeous sunset. Sometimes I try to get a photo out the windshield with my cell phone when I’m at a stop sign, but other times, the sky calls for the “good” camera and pulling over onto a gravel road to get out of the van to get the right shot. This was one of those pull over and use the good camera nights.

Our willingness to pull over and enjoy the beauty of the clouds and the sunset got me to thinking…how many times do we rush through life, and never notice the beauty that surrounds us? Anna and I could have all kinds of excuses to keep going the night I took this photo. Her appointments at the clinic were exhausting, and we were both tired from the travel. It had been a long couple of days. Instead, we were both willing to pull over and document the beauty in the skies in a stop and smell the roses kind of way.

Life is hard, and it can really get you down. It’s okay to stop every once in awhile and look around at the clouds in the sky, and be thankful.

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. ~Rabindranath Tagore

 

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Day 23: Clouds

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

 

 

30 Things I Love: Small Town Celebrations

Small Town Celebrations

Many small towns in rural America have community celebrations in the summer. I love these celebrations, and reconnecting with friends and family.

Our town’s celebration is called Coming Home Days. We used to have a winter celebration, called the Fishless Derby, but after a few winters of less than ideal conditions for the snowmobile races and ice fishing contests, it was moved to the weekend after Independence Day.

There is a lake in town, where we have a fireworks display on the first evening of the celebration. We usually go sit at the beach, and watch from there. This year, the lake was almost perfectly calm, making for some cool reflections on the water. It’s a pretty good show for a small town. Saturday is the busiest day of Coming Home Days. This year, my serving group and church was in charge of the pie social. So many wonderful pies were brought in by our congregation members! Fruit pies, custard pies, cookie pies…you name it, it was there. I look forward to visiting with the people who come to enjoy a piece of pie and relax a little bit. The pie social ends just in time to head outside to watch the parade. Our parade is pretty typical of small town parades. Tractors (new and old), area fire departments and ambulances, politicians, music, local clubs, and local businesses all wind their way through town.  Following the parade, we have a pork loin feed at the town fire hall, which raises funds for new equipment for the fire department.

The thing that makes small town celebrations best, are the people who come home to visit. It is so fun to see people that have been away for awhile. People that we may have taught in confirmation or Sunday school, were classmates of our daughters, or who were friends of Jonathan from high school. Catching up and reconnecting are just as important as the other events that are going on. After all, our small towns are nothing without the community of people. If you’re debating whether or not to attend your hometown’s celebration this year, I would encourage you to go. Not for the entertainment as much as reconnecting with family and friends. It’s the community that people create that make small towns great.

What is your town’s celebration like? What is you favorite part?

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Day 22: Small Town Celebrations

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

30 Things I Love: OxyClean

OxyClean

I know. Another post about a laundry product. However, this one is a new love.

When we purchased our first front load HE washing machine, we didn’t have a lot of issues with sour smelling clothes at first, but every once in awhile, it seemed like a load of towels would pick up an odor. As time went on, I learned that keeping the door open and using a washing machine cleaning tablet were the best ways to keep the musty smelling odors out of the machine. Getting the odors out of the towels that were left in the machine too long? That wasn’t as easy.

I started using Febreeze for Laundry when washing my towels and my tech shirts (the kind of shirts many wear while exercising, or working).  I also tried using vinegar in the rinse cycle, and using an extra rinse cycle to make sure all of the detergent was rinsed out. Alone, the products had mixed results. Bleaching was out, because Laura is sensitive to bleach, so I try not to use it on things she’ll use. Enter Pinterest.

I searched for ways to remove odors from HE washing machines, and came upon a few variations on a theme. Most used an oxygen bleach, and white vinegar. I had no idea what oxygen bleach was, and was pretty confused when I looked for it at the store, so I did a little Google search. Turns out that OxyClean is a form of oxygen bleach, so I bought a small bottle to see if it would work.

To remove the smell from towels and tech shirts, use the typical amount of detergent that you use (I use between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon depending on load size), add the OxyClean into the prewash water or dispenser, add some vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser, and choose the hottest water the fabric can handle. Set the machine to auto soak or pre-treat, then use the normal setting you use for the clothes. As soon as the cycle is done, remove the clothes, and do a smell check before you dry them on the hottest setting for those clothes. Personally, I like to air dry my tech shirts, since I think it helps them to last longer. Make sure the clothes or towels are fully dry before you fold and put away.

I was pretty skeptical that this would work. I have tried it with and without the vinegar as well. Let me just say, I love how the OxyClean helps remove the odors from the towels and tech shirts. In fact, the last time I went shopping, I bought a bigger bottle. Next test? Pig odors!

What laundry tricks or tips do you love?

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Day 21: OxyClean

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

 

30 Things I Love: My Church Choir Family

My Church Choir

I love singing. I’m not soloist material, but I love singing in our church choir. The best thing about the choir? It’s members.

The first time I attended a Wednesday evening choir practice, I was so nervous. I had never sung in a choir before, only small groups, so I had no idea what to expect. I was warmly welcomed by everyone, and quickly felt at ease. Over the years we have built friendships. We’ve cried together, laughed together, prayed together, and we’ve made beautiful music together. Our numbers fluctuate depending on the time of year and job or travel schedules, which is normal. The photo above was taken last night, with no heads up…just a “hey, I need a photo of the choir”. They were kind enough to allow the photo.

My music involvement at church started when I was asked to take over the bells of a woman with cancer. She could no longer continue to play in the bell choir, so she asked me to play her bells. How can you turn that down? Next came an ensemble that was made up of a few couple friends, and some choir members. We practiced regularly, right before the senior choir’s practice, but it took a few years to work my way up to the balcony. When I first joined the choir, I sat in the back row of the alto section. When one of our tenors was fighting cancer, I volunteered to move back to the tenor section. That is now my choir home. It was a steep learning curve, and I still have to really think about the notes at times, but I love it. The other two tenors, and the basses have been very good about helping me out when I need it. But, that’s what families do. They help each other out. I am so thankful for that!

I’ve had to miss a few practices this fall, but I always look forward to choir practice. Seeing the choir members, having devotions together, and making music always means I leave with a song in my heart. I love my choir family!

Day 1: Pizza

Day 2: Shoes

Day 3: Shout Stain Remover

Day 4: The Ability to Vote

Day 5: My Heritage

Day 6: NASCAR

Day 7: Black Velvet for Photography

Day 8: Strong Coffee and Strong Hairspray

Day 9: Peacefulness

Day 10: Winter’s First Snow

Day 11: Freedom

Day 12: Dairy

Day 13: Jonathan

Day 14: Coffee

Day 15: Seasons

Day 16: Scones

Day 17: #AgNerds

Day 18: Playing in the Dirt

Day 19: Friends

Day 20: My Church Choir Family

Click here to go to Holly Spangler’s blog, and see the link for other 30 Day Challenge Bloggers

 

%d bloggers like this: