Monday, February 28, 2011

Some Sweet Sunday School Shots

Okay, so last week, when my friend Melissa was here, she came to church with me. I teach 2 and 3s Sunday School so, while I was waiting for someone to come and show Melissa where to go for one of the adult classes, she waited in my room with me.

We have this new little boy who just moved to the area a few weeks ago and he's been coming to Sunday School for the past three weeks. Poor kid, every time his mom drops him off, he cries pretty loud for a while, and its usually in my ear as I'm holding him :) So, Melissa was there and he comes in and he's crying and as I have like three other kids coming in at the same time, she steps in to help and takes him over by the window to "look for bunnies" which makes him immediately stop crying. It was a miracle.

Melissa ended up going up to her Sunday School and the new boy was still standing at the window looking. He wouldn't come and play, nothing. So, finally, I asked him if he wanted to move a chair by the window to look for bunnies and birds and he says "yes" and so I move a chair over. Not long after, one of the adorable little girls I have in the class, decided to pull a chair over and keep him company. Too adorable! So now there are two little kids in two little chairs sitting by the window while everyone else is playing.
This week, the new boy is dropped off crying again and I immediately take him to the window to look for bunnies. This week, however, all of a sudden, the whole class comes stampeding over to the window to help look and pretty soon, everyone is dragging a chair over. And here they sat for about 5 minutes looking for bunnies and planes and birds and talking about the houses across the street. Too adorable!!!!
I love the 2s and 3s class! They always amuse me on Sunday morning and they always know that the story from last week was about JESUS! :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Party Like You're A Nemeth!

Ok - this wasn't the party, but its cute, isn't it :) I took this for Emily's birthday a few days ago... it was the weekend of birthdays! Sunday afternoon, we had a big ol' family party for Liz' birthday. We played rounds and rounds of a sucky game called, Bingo, ate saurkraut, sausage and chicken, watched ice cream cake melt and had an all around rip roaring time! But, of course, it was a Tom and Debbie party so it couldn't be anything more than fun!

Some people just couldn't take all the fun!.... Poor little fella was all tuckered out.....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Marshmallowey Mmmms

Its a Friday night. I'm sitting home alone (by choice) and, as its hard for me to actually sit still, I was getting anxious to do something so -- I decided that I wanted to try out some cupcakes!
I had been reading a few recipes for marshmallow frosting, which I didn't use, but I did have a hankering for it and so I searched out a recipe that called for the ingredients that I happened to have on hand.
They turned out absolutely amazing! I have never really had a homemade cupcake that was moist and yummy but this one - well - took the cake! It was the most delicious, moist, choclatey cupcake ever! And the marshmallow frosting, even though I didn't have quite enough vanilla, still turned out wonderful and light and marshmallowey. I made 12. I ate one -- I may need to go back for another 1 or 2 -- or 11...
Here's the recipes I used....
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup boiling hot water
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour (I actually used cake flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly butter, or line 16 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a small bowl stir until smooth the boiling hot water and the cocoa powder. Let cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Then in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
3 egg whites
2 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/3 tbsp. vanilla
3/4 c. boiling water

Combine egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla. Mix at low speed then add boiling water while mixer is at low speed. When all water is added turn to high speed and beat until peak stands.

Book Review

This year I decided to start posting the books that I've read as I finish them. Sometimes it does take me a while as I eat little chunks of books within minutes here and there during my weeks. I always try to have an expectation to get some reading done on the plane, but I must admit, that I end up reading my eyelids most of the time.

Last year, while I was on a trip, I believe in Minnesota, I was driving a pretty long distance and was in the car for a while. When I'm in the car for a long time, I tend to switch on NPR. This time, I switched it on and they were interviewing a woman who had written two books. Its pretty cool because the books she's written are about - books. Basically her job is to read and then she recommends books. The two books she has published are in relation to travel. Any book that has to do with travelling or another country or something a long that lines, she'll read it and then put it in her book.

One of the books she had reviewed was the book "Gertrude Bell - Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations". Its funny because she had talked about books that people have recommended to her and she'll excitedly rush out to get the book and then settle down, only to lose interest in a few pages. However, she'll come back to that same book at a different time and read it voraciously with a totally different attitude. Turns out, I did that with this book.

I had bought Gertrude back in July or August, took it on some trips and always tried to get into it, but just fell flat. I ended up putting it down around October and read a few other books, then I spotted it again in December, picked it up and couldn't put it down. I guess sometimes your book bug has a taste for something, but feed it what it wants, then come back to something else and you just might have a winner at that point.

Gertrude Bell was a pretty amazing woman. She was from a fairly wealthy British family and she become obssessed with travelling and seeing different places. She ended up having lifelong love affair with the middle east, in particular, Iraq which she was very instrumental in developing as a nation.

Parts of it were sad just because of some decisions and beliefs she had in life.

I figured I'd throw in a book review - from Powells in Portland :)

Stay tuned for the next book I'm on -- "The Lost City of Z" .... hooo.,..

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Seeing Suzanne

This morning I dropped one friend off (Melissa) at the airport and went downtown to visit another...

I actually had to go into Northwestern to take some specs on a shelf I need to have built for a closet they have so, being that Suzanne was a few blocks away, I texted her and we met up at Jamba Juice in the Hancock Building.

She's been downtown since last week's liver transplant. She and Sonya, the donor, are staying at a Residence Inn just a few blocks from the hospital. Suzanne's mom and dad are at the same hotel as well. Her mom has been back in the hospital due to dehydration and she's had a few other little issues, but besides that, she seems to be doing well.

Sonya is doing well, she's worked through a few little bumps in the road but seems to be back on track. Things do exhaust her quite easily still so they're taking it slow. They're hoping to take a little walk around tomorrow and maybe even do a movie just to get out of the hotel.

Sleep has been spotty and since they're only in a single room rather than a room with a bedroom and living room, when one is up, so is the other. Please pray that they continue to do well and that they would get more sleep and more rest in order to heal Sonya quickly so she can head back home to Raleigh-Durham.

It was so good to see Suzanne and I miss seeing her on Sundays and talking to her on the phone like I usually do :( I guess I have to share her a little while longer....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday - Happy Presidents Day!

Just a heads up out on blogland ....

Today is mom's birthday which she's celebrating down in south Carolina as she's been staying with Aunt June.

Happy birthday mom!!!!


I just wanted to put an update about Sonya and Gay. Both are seemingly doing well. They have dr's appointments today. Both of them have been relocated to a nearby hotel where they are put up for a 2 week recovery and sporadic dr's appointments.

Here is a link for Rick Hove's, Sonya's husband, blog. Pr read some of it in church yesterday and his thoughts are pretty great and applicable to so many of us. Take a look if you have a chance....

Here is the general blog link where you can see some updated pictures and a blog from Sonya herself.

Missing Melissa

This is Melissa...

This is Emily....

Melissa is with my dog because she's at my dog park (actually Lake County's dog park) which means she's with me and not at home! Aren't you glad I explained that one :) She came down for the extended weekend to hang out.

Which means, she's not at home. Which means that her kids miss her. Hence, Emily, her daughter, is sending her pictures and emails and calling her.

Melissa is easy to miss because we all love her so much! :)

Yea for a fun weekend!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Donner Pass - Party of One

Tuesday brought sun, Wednesday brought rain. San Francisco in wet, cold weather is not as pleasant as one might think. We woke up to rain and then took a little drive out to work at Stanford in Palo Alto. Palo Alto is one of those ritzy snooty areas, but its a ritzy snooty area on high drive as its the silicone valley area. Actually - apparently the sun always does shine on Palo Alto - unfortunately, when the sun does shine, it rains as well. Which, turned out to be awesome because I saw the most amazing rainbows ever! You know how you usually see a rainbow but it just kind of fades away.... I saw TWO rainbows that I saw the beginning AND the end!

It was quite cool having the opportunity to work at Stanford. We finished up in a few hours and then went over to this really trendy little organicy eatery and had some wild tasting chicken burgers that were actually delicious!

We had chatted about the fact that I had to drive from San Fran to Reno and the guys I was working with were giving me some pointers and, in light of what they said, when I went to the rental car place, I decided to maybe ramp up from the sub compact to an all wheel drive vehicle.

Turned out that it was extremely fortunate that I did go to the AWD! I drove a few hours from San Francisco and then started driving up into the Sierras and BOOM - the snow started coming. I started getting a little concerned as there were signs that I needed chains, yet I was led to believe that if I had AWD than I didn't need chains. Turned out the latter statement was correct. This was one of the most interesting experiences I've had in a while.

Starting to get into the mountains and seeing the slight signs of snow....

It starts to get a little worse and the traffic starts backing up and slowing down....
The traffic actually stopped for a while at one point and gave me time to look around and appreciate the gorgeous scenery. Beautiful pines becoming heavy with the snow....
There was suddenly a huge area where the side of the road became a literal parking lot for people to pull over and put chains on their vehicles.
Here is a picture that I found interesting - some people pull over and put on their own chains, but most people utilize services. There is a whole business up in the mountains of people who put chains on for $30 and then when you get to the other side, they'll take the chains off for $15. Here's a picture of a guy putting chains on a truck. These guys where orange jump suits and they're actually called "Chain Monkeys".
Theres this little cart that is parked in the middle of the road and you have to stop at the cart for them to ok your passing. If you don't have chains or AWD then you don't get to go through.
We were barely even moving towards the middle of the pass. The roads were so full of snow and it was coming down harder. We were going like 5 miles an hour and you could hear the vehicles with chains as they thumped and clanged along the road.

The worst part of the pass was the Donner Pass area. It was actually laughable as they had all these Donner things -- names like "Donner Ski Slope" and Donner Family Park and Donner State Park and Donner this and Donner that. And the amusing thing was that I had just finished reading a book on the Donner party and it was just kind of eery that they had all this recreational stuff named after them and they definitely had nothing going on recreational-wise. Poor people.
I pity the poor Lexus SUV that I dutifully followed the whole way. Whatever lane he was in, I followed -he had a NV plate and he was driving not too slow but not too fast so I seemd to trust him :) I was pretty tense after the drive, though. I usually take my shoes off when I have a long drive and when I finally started getting into Reno, I went to move my foot and my right foot big toe was totally cramped.
End of story - I did make it over safely - about 2 hours later. It was long and tedious, but I can say I've been through the CA/NV pass, aka the Donner Pass, in a really really bad storm -and survived! Yea for all wheel drive!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Day Is Over - Phew


Last night I didn't leave Minnesota until late so I didn't get home until 4 a.m. this morning. I immediately fell into bed and was OUT. Thank God I did hear my alarm go off at 6:45 so I could get up, jump in the shower, pack and be out the door and on the way to the airport by 7:30 a.m. in order to get on my 9:47 a.m. flight.

Because I booked my ticket later, I ended up getting a cheaper flight by flying through Denver. Its always so weird to come into Denver as its completely flat and desolate but then you look around and see the mountains. We we came in this morning, there was this other plane that was coming in neck and neck with us and they ended up landing in sync with us on a parallel runway. It was pretty cool.
My flight in Denver connected me with a flight to San Francisco.

Flying into San Fran is quite an adventure. There are a lot of airports whose runways are kind of "in" the water.... New York Lagurdia, Norfolk VA -- but this one is so crazy. The runway is in the water, but you completely have to fly OVER the water before you can aim at the piece of land with the runway. You're coming in and looking out the window and you're about 50 feet above the water and progressively going lower. Today, there was quite a bit of wind and weather so the way the plane was shaking, you kept on wondering if you were just going straight in the drink.

Then, once you get into the airport, its a whacked up place. I tend to fly through San Fran a lot, connecting to other places. Its so confusing finding where you're supposed to go. I went through SF to get to Tokyo and it took me about 30 minutes to actually find the international terminal! Today, I've never had to look for hotel shuttles before so I spent another 30 minute adventure roaming around looking where I was supposed to go. There were all these signs for hotel shuttle with arrows, but you'd follow the arrow and then all of a sudden you'd look back and see it pointing somewhere else. Then you'd follow that and, blam, you had to circle back and track it another way.

Then - I stood and waited for 30 minutes for a shuttle that was supposed to come every 20 minutes. Then once we got on the shuttle, it took another 30 minutes to get to the hotel as we had to stop at like 3 other hotels and every hotel, the driver would go in and chat with the front desk people.

Oh - here's a laugh. The west coast is SO international feeling. There is a lot of asian influence, like we've got hispanic influence around us, everyone around the west coast, it seems, is asian. I find this true in CA and then up in Seattle. Anyways, our bus driver is Asian, but I think he was like Chinese as he was playing this Chinese restaurant music in the hotel shuttle (30 minutes of that asian stringed instrument and some Chinese woman singing "aaa fo fee shu pork moo goo eggroll" or whatever she was saying, is enough to make you want to rip your hair out! So, we stop at this one terminal and out little Asian bus driver gets out and says "Lakinta, Em-boosee an Cour-yahd" and all these people come up to him looking for their hotel shuttle (no of which was Lakinta, Em-boosee or Cour-yahd). Sitting listening to them, I had to turn my face to the window and stiffle my laughter. One little Indian woman was asking for "LAPLAMSDINRINE" or something like that, a Japanese man was asking for "Shotonemo" or something, and a Eastern European woman was pointing at the shuttle bus and saying something about stuffed cabbage? Then, the little Asian bus driver was trying to figure out what each person was trying to say, but then they couldn't understand him because of his accent, but then he couldn't understand them because of their accents. And it went on and on and added to the pleasure of the whole experience.

Oh well - at least, I walked out the airport door to NO SNOW and the SUN and weather that wasn't really hot or warm, but wasn't cold!

I'm staying in Silicone Valley by the water - you look out the hotel one way and this is the view....
This was the view on the other side. Such a contrast!I took a walk around the harbor trail and was kicking myself that I didn't pack my running shoes as I didn't think I'd have a chance to use them. I walked long enough to get my little heart rate up though and then I headed back to the hotel to call it an "early" night...

"Pants In A Bush" is the title of this picture
You can see the plane coming in to land - its that little white fleck over the water

A Liver For A Heart

This is my friend Suzanne's mom, Gay Scott. The woman in the black sweater is Suzanne's friend, Sonya.

If you've not read the Caring Bridge link that I put a few posts ago, Gay was a nurse in CA where she contracted Hepatitis C. Over the years, the Hep C has basically degraded her liver to where she's been going through liver failure. For the past year, she's been in and out of the hospital, basically in with a not very good prognosis. She was told that she either needed a liver transplant or she was not going to make it.

At that point, the family's basic option was to find a liver donor, so they put the word out. There were a few people came forward but they had to be tested and they had to qualify to be able to donate. The testing process is pretty loaded and hard and included physical as well as emotional and other qualifications. No one was able to qualify.

Finally, Suzanne's good friend, Sonya, came forward and started the process of testing. She came through with flying colors and in they then began the process of preparing for donation.

Sonya and her husband came in on Friday of last week and were in church on Sunday.

I had to put this story on because, to me, its absolutely amazing!

The most amazing part is the story that Sonya would give if anyone asked her why she would do something like this. Why would she put herself through a surgical procedure, give someone else part of her liver and then have to take two weeks of bed rest in order to ensure the growth back of what they had taken. There are plently of risks involved, like any procedure, so if the whole thing sounds "simple" its not as cinched up at it might sound.

Sonya's testimony, as given on Sunday, was that the one thing she wants everyone to know because of this procedure is that her life is not hers. The thought that motivates her is that God has given His Son for her heart, to make it new and to give her life, so part of what she can do to show others this fact is give her sister in Christ, Gay, part of her liver. This liver will, in essence, make Gay's liver new and give her continued life here on earth. The factor with Sonya's life is that she knows its in God's hands and its an eternal life and she wanted to share the earthly life that God has given her here in order to show His love to others. I think thats the most amazing thing.

I told Suzanne the other day that I have a hard time sharing my Starbucks gift card with my friends, let alone my liver. I can't imagine doing what Sonya is doing. I respect her so much!

Thank you all for praying for Sonya and Gay. The surgery went well for both of them and they've been cleared so far. Gay will stay at Northwestern for while and then Sonya will be leaving Northwestern in a few days, but she'll be going to a nearby hotel for two weeks for further recovery.

I'll keep you updated!

Liver Update From Suzanne...

3:45 pm: Mom's Doctor just came and talked to us all. Mom did great and they are closing her up now and she will be in ICU in 45 min or so~Doctor said the surgery was very rountine.
We will know in the next 6-8 hours if the liver is fully functioning.

~till later WOW!


Just an update on the liver transplant...

Sonya went through her donor surgery successfully and she's resting now. Gay is in surgery now and is doing well... She'll be in for about 4 or 5 more hours before the surgery is complete.

Thank you all for your prayers. The Erlandson family and Sonyas husband are all down at Northwestern waiting for everything. Please pray for them as well.


A Big Day

Please take a look at the link below. I'll reveal more of the story later, but please be praying tomorrow starting at 7 am. A friends mom and her friend will be undergoing liver transplant surgery - one donating the other receiving. The link below will explain more but I'll expound later as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Yesterday I left to drive up to Minnesota to take care of some stuff. Its a long yucky drive up, especially in the winter, but had to be done. I have to get back home sometime this evening so that I can be up and bright and early to catch a 9:30 flight to San Francisco. I'm there for two days and then I have to drive over to Reno (about a 4 hour drive and praying that the mountain pass is open) for a conference and some work. I get back on Friday. Its an EEK Week!

So - I had to add this for a little laugh. I caught the beginning of Saturday Night Live the other night and almost wet myself over this one skit... take a gander....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shoeing Through The Woods On A Snowy Afternoon

What a great day to be able to get back in the outdoors! It finally has warmed up a little and when Kim asked me to go up and spend some time in the woods - I immediately said YES! I haven' t been up to Kettle Moraine in quite a while and I really love it up there so much. I've not had a chance to break out my skis yet this season and I've not used the snow shoes that much either.

We stopped right before the trailheads to get Kim skis or snowshoes -- turns out there were no more snowshoes so we had to go for the skis, which she had never done before so I knew it would be an interesting, fun day!
We got to the cross country ski trail and got our trail passes....

And on with the skis!...

I never really saw one of these before. They use it to groom the trail for skiing. Its got the grooves that are used for the skis. Pretty cool!

Sometimes, its easier to just take the hills on your butt.... Works for all parties involved!

Kim is amazing! I've never seen a person fall face front, going UP a hill! She was a terrific trooper though!

After going through a 2 mile loop on skis, we decided to go back to the ski hut and see if there were any snowshoes returned...
Happy Valentines Day -- there were indeed snowshoes! So back on the snowshoe trail!
Apparently theres a trail to Downtown????
I love the names of these trails which are, incidentally, the same trails I used to ride mountain bike on. Haven't been biking on the trails in about a year and these signs are new since then. Pretty great names, but a little frightening when you came whipping around a corner of trees on a bike.