Sunday, December 30, 2007


Another quick update - Kristen's trip to Denver went well on Friday. The specialist feels certain they can hold off on bringing the babies into this world for another two weeks. They have been tested for everything possible, and have passed their tests with flying colors. She is being forced to rest by virtue of being in the hospital. She's bored and missing the kids, but I am happy she's there. Just on the off chance that it might be remotely possible, I asked the "concierge" at the hospital (did you ever hear of such a position?) if there were such a thing as a loaner laptop while Kristen was "incarcerated." Lo and behold, she got right on it, and had one in Kristen's room already today. So hopefully she'll be able to post her own take on the situation soon. (I just checked - and she did - so hop over there and read her take on the subject.)

More to come on Hawaii - I'm having a hard time locating some of my pictures. But I have many more things to share.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Kona Adventure, Part 6 - The Big Box Store-y

An update, then a store-y. Kristen's ob/gyn (see yesterday's post, if you haven't) admitted her to the hospital yesterday afternoon. Supposedly she'll be going to Denver today - the doctor down there cancelled her appointment because of road conditions yesterday. The snow has stopped, but the radio says the roads are very icy down there. So we'll see what develops. She told me last night that she'll be making her home in her hospital bed for the duration of this pregnancy - days, weeks. She's already tired of t.v.! Only the Lord knows what is ahead. Thank you for your prayers. We cherish them.

Today is our actual anniversary. We will go out tonight and probably talk about the early celebration in Paradise. No fabulous pictures today - just a quick story to get my mind on something amusing. It is so cold and has been so stressful since we returned that I often have to go back to Hawaii in my mind. I will indeed be sharing more pictures, though, as the days go by.

The play on words is because the setting for this story is in W*l-M*rt, which I call a Big Box Store. Ten years ago when we were in Kona, W*l-M*rt and McD were the only evidence of big business on the island. This time we were pretty sad to see not only WM, but L0we's, C0stco, Super K-M*art, and every form of fast food. The good news is that they situate the big box stores so that you have to know where they are to find them. They are well hidden up on hills, behind foliage. But they are busy!

So - back to the store-y. I had fallen into the ocean (just barely), wrenched my knee and ankle, had blood and mud all over my pants and shirt (from a lava rock-slit finger), and was of course soaking wet. My shoes and socks were squishing. We stayed several miles above town in the mountains, so didn't want to make a trip back up there mid-day. I told DC I needed to go to WM to buy something to wear.

I hobbled into the shoe department, where there was hardly anything but flip-flops (called thongs in a previous generation!), which I cannot tolerate between my toes. I finally found a pair of simple sandals. I picked up a couple of pairs of capris (or pedal pushers or clam diggers or whatever you call them), a t-shirt, and headed to the little room with the mirrors that make you look even worse than you already do. I really hate shopping and trying on clothes. Add sprained ankles and knees and it was a really delightful experience.

Woe is me, the first pair didn't fit. Yikes, how could it be possible that this size didn't fit?? I stuck my nose out the door and asked the young woman in charge to please page DC for me. She spoke very poor English, and managed to mangle his name on the PA system. Turns out he was standing right there, but I didn't see him. He brought me some more clothes with which to torture my self-esteem.

Finally I found a passable fit with both top and bottom. I wadded up all the soiled and soaked clothes and shoes, headed out the door of the fitting room with the new clothes on, tags and all, and said, "Okay, here's the deal. I hurt myself badly, my clothes are soaked, I need to wear these things out of the store, so can you help me work that out?" Just then I realized that at least six women were standing there in a semi-circle, holding clothes over their arms, waiting for a vacant spot to torture themselves with the "trying on clothes" process.

There were lots of funny little smiles on their faces as the young woman finally located someone to take me to a check-out spot. Fortunately for me, she took me to someone close by and I didn't have to struggle all the way to the front and stand in line with hundreds of people looking on. I still had quite an audience, though, as she cut off the price tags, scanned them, bagged up my wet clothes, took my money, and sent me on my limping way.

I don't have a picture of myself - Dwight did take a video of me sitting on a rock in this pathetic condition. My camera was ruined. A very well hidden blessing!

I want to thank you all again for your prayers for me at this embarrassing, frustrating, painful time. He truly did touch me during that night and I was able to enjoy the rest of the time there, though moving slowly and carefully.


Thursday, December 27, 2007


It's snowing. Beautiful, but icy underneath, so not great to be out and about. I'm here in the office, pretty much on my own (which is good, since I am still so far behind).

Kristen's bed rest situation was not as successful as it should have been. It was a very difficult week. She went back to her ob/gyn yesterday, who sent her to the hospital for a shot to improve the lung function of the babies. She needs another one today, in order for it to be the most effective. That means a snowy, icy trip up here to this hospital for the shot, then down to Denver on icy interstate highway to her neonatal specialist. Her ob/gyn is predicting a birth experience sooner than later. We're hoping and praying later!

Not only is it better for the babies to be later, but we are not physically or mentally prepared for them to be here yet. Of course, they'll be in the hospital for who knows how long, if they are born soon. That will make things even more difficult.

Well, lots of prayer requests imbedded in this short message. I know we can count on you, our wonderful prayer partners!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Post-Paradise Pandemonium and Poinsettias

Keeping in the Hawaiian mode, my desk looked like a volcano ready to erupt when I walked in to my office Tuesday morning. Fortunately, we have a student working for us this week, so she saved my sanity by opening all the mail and setting up application packets for me. This is the early deadline, so apps are pouring in (Barb's son-in-law was in this mode a year ago. I think he likes this year better!) By the time I answered all of my e-mails and voice mails, the work study student had my snail mail all in order. What a blessing.

Then we found out that Kristen had to go on bed rest. It means just what it says - she needs to be lying down or reclining unless she's taking a shower (short) or eating a meal (quick). Since her house is full of steps, and her little ones cannot quite understand that Mommy can't run for them as they are used to, she will be spending a lot of the time down here at my house (just 3 doors down). The kids can't figure out why they have to be here in the afternoon when her car is at their house. Here at my house, she'll be able to be on one level for all the necessities, and I might even let her use my computer to keep in touch with the world! She will be in this mode for at least two weeks, when they will re-evaluate the growth of the girls and decide what is next. In a test taken today, it was determined that the babies are in no distress, so that is really great news. To be in no distress, and to be so tiny, they can create a bit of stress for the rest of the world! Little Squirt, as she's called, was so active that it took over 3 hours to get the test accomplished.

Feisty will probably grow up to be a doctor or nurse. Besides her incredibly soft heart, she is a natural. Today she was making sure her mommy was covered and comfortable. Kristen thanked her and she said, "It's my pleasure to serve you!"

Christmas will be interesting this year. Kristen was supposed to sing with the band for the Christmas Eve service. We're trying to figure out where and when to meet for all of the various family gatherings. I really need to get something bought and wrapped, but I always have the kids with me when I'm not at work, and I don't think I want them with me when I'm shopping for them!

Well, back to a bit of paradise. I have so much more I want to share. I'll start with this - one of the most amazing sights on the island at this time of year:

Poinsettias grow in profusion and are just glorious. They are a bit different from the ones we get for our homes at Christmastime.
"Most Christmas greenery reflects European traditions. But one colorful plant, which looks like a flaming star, the poinsettia, is a native to the American continent. It was named after Dr. Joel Robert Poinset, an ambassador to Mexico who first introduced it to the United States in 1828. The people of Mexico and Central America call the brilliant tropical plant the "Flower of the Holy Night." The poinsettia is a many-pointed star that has become a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem." (Dennis Bratcher).

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with the lack of PCness on the island. Everywhere we went, we saw signs of the real, true Christmas. One store had a lovely painting of the wisemen coming to greet Jesus. The faces of the wise men were very Asian in appearance - appropriate, don't you think?? Several other business has "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" signs displayed. Mele Kalekemaka!

Believe it or not, when I got back to work, I was pleasantly surprised to find two large, beautiful poinsettia plants in our main office - at least a bit of Christmas. White, of course.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Twelve Random Christmas Things About Myself

We're back from Paradise. It has been a very hard re-entry! Today was the first day back at work - I managed to get through my e-mails, half my voice mails, and none of the volcanic-sized pile of snail mail on my desk. It probably wasn't the best time of the school year to be gone, but being gone was glorious!

PRAYER REQUEST: Kristen's doctor has ordered her on bed rest for at least two weeks. The babies aren't growing as much as he would like to see. She's had an incredibly stressful four days, because the powers that be at her place of employment were, shamefully, not sympathetic, empathetic, or even willing to do what the doctor said. It has been an unbelievably frustrating experience. The doctor wrote letters, and finally called her supervisor. Her attitude changed dramatically very quickly after that. At the end of two weeks, they'll re-evaluate the situation and decide whether or not she can go back to work - very part-time. She'll be on short-term disability, I guess. I'm not sure what that means financially. I'll continue to take the kids in the afternoon, or stay there and help her in whatever she needs.

Now - back to Christmas. Kristen tagged me for this "hoopla," named by one of her blog friends, who does not like the word "meme."

  1. My sister and I are only 11 months and two weeks apart in age, so we always got the same things for Christmas from our relatives. We began sitting with our backs to each other and opened gifts from the same people at the same time so we wouldn't know what we were getting.
  2. I talked about the Christmas I had mono in this post, and about how disappointed I was to miss out on playing piano for my 9th grade Christmas program.
  3. Every four years our missionary cousins would come home from Africa and we had the best time at our Grandma and Grandpa's house. Both sets of grandparents lived a mile apart, so we had to divide our time between them.
  4. I'll never forget the year my dad was on a leave of absence from the pastorate and selling for Sears (because of health problems). He was a top salesman and we had the biggest Christmas in terms of gifts that we had ever had. My sister and I each got a very large suitcase, full of clothes.
  5. Then there was the year we came home from college (3 of us at the same college at the same time) and found that the folks had decided to use the aluminum tree with the colored wheel instead of a real one. We all nixed that the moment we walked in the door and went out to buy a tree.
  6. DC and I got married 3 days after Christmas in 1972. That Christmas celebation was memorable, because it kind of took a back seat as we looked ahead to our wedding.
  7. Our first Christmas together, we planned to drive to Colorado Springs to be with my parents. The weather was not good, but we headed out anyway. We got 20 miles down the road and stopped at a truck stop because it was so icy. A trucker told us we'd better not go any further because it was getting worse in the direction we were going. We took his advice and went back home, where we had nothing to eat because we'd planned to be gone all week-end. Of course, nothing was open either. We invited ourselves over to somebody's house and made the best of it. We went down for our anniversary instead and spent our first anniversary in a sleeping bag on my parents' living room floor.
  8. I spent many years directing the children's Christmas musicals at our church. It was something I wanted my children to experience and nobody else was doing it. I think I did it for about 6 years. Every year I swore I'd never do it again, but it's kind of like the pain of childbirth - you forget how bad it was and do it all over again! There is nothing like the joy of watching the children come through with a wonderful performance.
  9. I love the sights and sounds of Christmas. I love to sit in the family room, playing good music, with just the tree's lights on, and take off my glasses, letting my eyes go out of focus, causing the lights to blur together. Now is that weird or what??
  10. My family of origin always opened gifts on Christmas Eve. We did the same with our kids. I was fortunate that my husband's family did the same, so we didn't have a lot of adjustment to make with Christmas traditions. Must be the Swedishness. Since all the kids in the family on both sides are grown and have other families to consider, the Carlson side meets on Christmas Eve, and they go to their in-laws' on Christmas Day. We're fortunate that everyone is close.
  11. I love playing Christmas music at work, from the Monday after Thanksgiving until Christmas break. I love to decorate my little office to reflect the real Reason for this Season. I wear a pin every day to testify to that fact.
  12. I haven't bought one thing yet - there is nothing under either of my trees. And I'm not stressed about that for some reason. I used to bake at least 15 kinds of goodies, but when I began working full time, I had to drop something, and baking was it. I wonder if I'll start again when I retire during this next year. I wonder.

May your celebration of Christ's coming be the most meaningful ever.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes

We interrupt our regularly scheduled travelogue to participate in some Christmas fun. I am re-posting last year’s Christmas Tour of Homes, and will rejoin the travelogue in progress (if you guys think I should – is anyone tired of it yet? There’s so much more to say and show and I don’t want to belabor the point if it’s too long – please let me know!) Add a year to everything that is date sensitive in this old post.

New memories are being formed every day as I care for the kiddoes. Care Bear is really aware of what Christmas is about, thanks to Sunday school, Christian preschool, and reinforcement at home and at Grandma's. She was excited about seeing Santa today at the mall, but yesterday it was all about Jesus. She and Feisty were playing Mary and Joseph yesterday. Feisty wanted to be Baby Jesus, but Care Bear informed her that she couldn't be Baby Jesus, because he had not been born yet - she had to be the donkey that Mary rode on to Bethlehem. Pretty good for a 4-year-old! Care Bear has also been very concerned this week about King Herod's ordering all of the baby boys to be killed. It was a great learning moment for us.

Last year I bought the Fisher Price Little People (known as Things That Go Guys to Care Bear - another story I'll let Kristen tell) nativity set, because my traditional set was showing the wear and tear of being rearranged by little hands - several animal ears have fallen victim. When you push on the angel on top of the stable, it plays "Away in a Manger." They arrange, rearrange, lose, find, the characters many times a day.

ornaments 004

I have decided a safer place for the set I made (with the help of a really crafty friend) many years ago is the top shelf of the entertainment center. On the shelves below is my growing collection of angels.

ornaments 003

A few days ago I mentioned that I have two trees. It happened because I always wanted to put a tree in the living room window and the kids always wanted the tree down in the family room. I compromised - the tree full of memories continues to be in the family room, and I bought myself a tree which I have added to every year since. It has been a labor of love, but lots of work!

christmas decorations 004

christmas decorations 005

I made this crewel embroidery picture years ago and love to hang it every year. Now it serves as a reminder of how ambitious and creative I used to be - and patient.

christmas decorations 001

I love this wooden Christmas Windmill. It is very special because my son bought it for me for my birthday a few years ago. It has 3 levels of the nativity scene, and of course twirls when the candles are lit. The grandkids love it as well.

christmas decorations 006

I had a hard time narrowing down my favorite ornaments. Our first tree was full of blue satin balls from our flocked wedding trees the December before. That's all we had on our first tree. I wish I had a picture of it. Every year after that I would give away a box (we had 6 dozen of them) and replace it with a new set. We also decided to acquire a special ball each year. Most of them are dated. The very first one we picked out was crushed, along with many others, when one of those real trees with a lousy trunk tipped over while we were gone for the evening. That was sad.

When I was a young mom, we had a great time at Bible study. Sometimes we had a craft time. One year we went through this phase. The balls were styrofoam made to look quilted - lots of fun to make, but I haven't done one since I made so many that year. But this one has stayed on my tree ever since - I wonder how many of the gifts I gave are still "hanging around."

christmas decorations 003

This was our 1979 ball, bought to commemorate the first year in our new house - we are in the same house 28 years later. I posted about that on July 1.

ornaments 031

I made this for our 10th Christmas together - the only needlepoint project I ever did - I did lots of crewel embroidery, regular embroidery, and counted cross stitch, but only this one needlepoint. That makes it VERY special, as well as very sentimental.

christmas decorations 002

For our 25th anniversary, 9 years ago, we went to the Big Island of Hawaii. We stayed outside of Kona at a Bed and Breakfast called The Dragonfly Ranch (Kim would love it!). It was so wonderful - no windows on our cabin so the birds and even roosters woke us up in the morning. We drove around the hills one of the first days and came upon a beautiful old very small Catholic church. They were having a craft sale that day and we bought this hand-made ornament as a memento. We also attended their Christmas program later that week. That was a blessed experience - seeing the Christmas story portrayed with hula was unbelievably moving and beautiful - I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it.

ornaments 030

This is our 1995 ornament in honor of our little dachshund, Fritzie - I wrote about him a few weeks ago. This was one of the last pictures we took of him before he died.

ornaments 032

Last, but not least, our 3 grandkids are gracing the tree with these adorable pictures.

ornaments 029

This has been fun - I hope it's not too long for your to enjoy it as well. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friday Show and Tell - The Kona Adventure - Part 5

One of the things we love about this island is its diversity. Not the diversity of population, but the diversity of the land. Driving around the island, you quickly change from one topographical type to another in a matter of minutes. In one afternoon, we left the tropical island beauty to the rugged black lava as far as the eye can see.

I call this Hawaiian Graffiti - many people use white rocks on black lava to express their undying love for their current special someone, or a memorial for someone who has died, or a celebration of their graduation. It's kind of a different version of the old water tower. This goes on for miles and miles.

The desolation of these lava fields is intense and immense. There is an occasional pathetic bush attempting to sustain life in its midst.
As the lava ages, it turns brown as more foliage survives and covers it with a bit more life.
Suddenly, the scene changes, and it's as if you'd arrived in Minnesota in the summertime.
There were cattle and horses grazing on the beautiful green grass.
The next bend in the road finds you between forests of trees.
King Kamehameha I (the Great) was honored in his birthplace town, Hawe.
The growth of the beauty from the lava rocks is amazing.
Suddenly, around another curve was the most panoramic beauty imaginable - bluffs, cliffs, ocean below - Pololu Valley Look-Out, with Maui visible in the distance.
We headed back toward Kailua-Kona and on the way decided to check out one of the top 10 beaches in the world - Hapuna Beach (judged by whom, I don't know). Since I was still walking very gingerly, and since I don't own a bathing suit that fits anyway, I spent the time sitting in a beach chair, people-watching, and reading a very good book. One family was having the greatest time together - the little guy arrived in a bathing suit and diaper. Before long he was having a great time in the all-together - for the rest of the day. I took an adorable picture, but decided it might be better not to put it out there in cyberspace. DC had a wonderful time exploring and frolicking in the water - wishing he had a boogy board to take advantage of the waves. We stayed long enough for this:
Good Night!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kona Adventure - Part 4

So little time - so much to share! I'm tired tonight, because we've been on the go since 7:30 this morning. I will tell more as time goes on. But tonight I just want to share two pictures. The last time we were here, we found little places along the side of the road in the countryside where leis would be hanging on wooden rods beside their mailboxes. They had made them and trusted you to put $2.00 in a box and take a lei.

We went back up to see if they still did this, and found a place where they now place them in a cooler, trusting you to put $3.00 in a very well fastened down heavy box. They still trust you to put the money in, but they want to be sure nobody takes the box!

The leis are so gorgeous and so fragrant. I just wish they lasted longer!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Kona Adventure - Part 3

Here we are at Part 3, and I'm still on Day 1 of our adventure. I am having so much fun sharing our fun with you. Every day we wish someone was with us to see and experience this beautiful place. We are amazingly fortunate to have gotten out of Colorado just before three days of snow and ice hit, and to arrive here just as the rain left this area. My foot feels great and my knee improves daily. I am truly a walking miracle.

Karen asked if that was cantaloupe on our first day's breakfast. It's actually papaya. When we went to the Farmer's Market the first day, before I hurt myself, we saw so many varieties of that one fruit, it was confusing. We bought some tangarines, grapefruit, and pineapple. That night we ate the whole pineapple - wonderfully delicious. Nancy gives us way too much food every day. In fact, we usually end up having half of it for lunch or dinner. We have bagels, scones, muffins, and/or croissants, along with the fruit, orange juice, and another more tropical fruit juice variety.

We also bought some Kona coffee that day from a local grower. We very much like to talk to people who live here and work here. There are two hot topics around here with those who make this their home. One is, as I mentioned before, the growth without adequate planning - they say the road work to the airport will take two more years. Reminds me of Denver's huge project called TREX that had things torn up for 3 years. The other controversy is around the coffee issue. Many of the coffee farmers are really up in arms because many companies blend coffee with inferior beans and call it Kona coffee - and do so with as little as 10% authentic Kona coffee. The place we stopped today to buy 100%, no blend coffee is a large operation - the aroma of roasting beans is pungent as you drive down the road. They all think I'm pretty weird because I don't want a taste.

One of our favorite places the first time here was the Painted Church. This little Catholic Church used to be on the coast, but they moved it into the hills because of salt damage. The walls are covered with paintings which were being destroyed. Ten years ago when we were here, we were privileged to attend their annual Christmas program. The most amazing memory is of the Christmas story enacted in hula - all with the hands. It was so moving. Unfortunately, they had their program really early this year and we missed it.

Since we're on the theme of churches, we were walking down the street where a wedding party was being photographed. The wedding took place at the oldest church on the island, built by missionaries in 1838. Later that day we went for a walk on the beach by the old airport site - there was the wedding party having their reception. The young girl you see sitting on the steps was running around, barefooted, on the lava rocks, still in her flower girl dress, with flowers in her hair. Really cute.
On Sunday morning we had the privilege of worshipping in a small church of our denomination. They were having their children's program. It was very small-church, informal, sweet. We felt so blessed to have been there.