Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

today she's 37

She's always known how to rock an outfit. Skinny enough to tie a bandanna around her waist. She's jazzy on the flute and has 20/40 vision. She's my sister, and today she's 37.

She's not afraid to tuck her pants into her socks and is always ready to pose for the camera. She's got thick hair to create large feathered bangs, glasses on her cheeks and teeth that are just about fully grown. Today those teeth are fully grown, because today she's 37.

She's not afraid to color block, trendy way ahead of her time. She matches her necklace to her shorts, her socks with her short sleeve sweatshirt and lets her side pony blow casually with the wind. She's my sister. And today she's 37.

I've always wanted to be just like her. Always wanted to tie my shoes on a tall fence in a birch forest. Always looked up to her, loved her with all my heart and felt blessed beyond measure that she's my big sister. Today's her birthday. She's 37.

Leave her a facebook message or drop her an email. Or leave her a little love in the comments today. I'll make sure she sees this post.  


happy halloween!


Our first animals at No Cow Farm: a baby chicken and a little cow.
Huge thanks to my cousin Sarah who had the chicken costume.

notes in a cookbook

So here's a super fun idea from my mom. Record when you made a certain recipe right in your cookbook. I was at my mom's on Friday and decided to make cookies with Mara, Sonna and Svea. I opened this well loved Shepherd of the Valley cookbook and found this page with our favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. And it made me laugh out loud.

First of all, I did the math and Annika and I first made these cookies over TWENTY years ago. What on earth. October 1991. I was in forth grade. Then again in 1992 and a couple times in September of 1993, once with my great life long friend, Jenny Snyder.

The best part is my own handwriting adding a bit more detail to the directions. I remember the first time I tried these on my own and I followed Genevieve's directions as they were written. Which left me quite confused as to when the eggs and butter should have been added. The dough was terrible and they didn't turn out. We were out of butter so I couldn't start over and I was so frustrated. Look at that arrow and sad face next to Genevieve's name! (She has now passed away, but man I love church cookbooks. I love that you know these people!)

Mara added our names with 2012 so that in another twenty plus years, we can come back and see what we made.

And then the girls took turns holding Baby Elsie.

My sister Annika just told me that Mara has been telling people, "My aunt was making these cookies all the way back in 1922." 

grandma b's funeral

The funeral was a sweet, sweet time of family. I kept thinking Grandma would have loved it.

I cried the hardest while the whole family was gathered in the basement of the church before we walked in for the funeral. Seeing us all together and knowing that it might just not happen ever again, was a death I was grieving, just as much as Grandma's. Obviously I'll see all of them over and over, but it won't ever be the same. Death to a chapter in life, I suppose. I know this from Grandma and Grandpa Harrington's deaths. I miss that we don't all drive to Waverly for Christmas and wander around HyVee and Walmart the day after Christmas with Uncle Mark and Aunt Jane. I miss lingering over the continental breakfast in the Super 8 before heading to the nursing home. I just miss that chapter. And I know something similar is about to change with the Bredbergs too. I am most sad for that.

My cousin Daron gave a great talk on Hope and Humming, reading Psalm 108 and telling how one can't really hum unless they have a deep peace inside of them. Grandma hummed all the time, no matter what she was doing. And that was an outward evidence of the joy and contentment she felt on the inside.

My cousin Mark told a story at the wake. He told about how Grandma had a way of making ordinary moments feel special, and how on the night before his wedding at the farm, they found the dress shirt he was going to wear the next day in the clean laundry. Grandma walked the shirt over to Mark's mom and asked her if she would like the honor of ironing the shirt her son was going wear the next day. Mark said his mom would typically pay no attention to such a small task, but somehow the way Grandma presented the shirt made the ironing feel important, sacred. And so she ironed the shirt and she still talks about how special that was for her, how much love and care she took and how Grandma helped her see the holy in the ordinary.

That's what I'm going to miss the most, I suppose. Grandma was a quiet work horse. Always a project. Always turning the ordinary into something sacred.

It was hard for me to really be sad about Grandma. There was time for closure, and many had a special moment of prayer, a verbal blessing, a heartfelt farewell. It was time. I feel very badly for my cousin Kathy who is expecting in May, that Grandma will never meet her first baby. And actually I feel most badly for Kathy and Sarah. Grandma was basically a second mom to those two, always folding their laundry, at every game, involved in every 4-H project. I was keenly aware of how different their grieving must be from my own. I was definitely the city mouse and they had grandma in the country. And now to have Grandma miss meeting Kathy's firstborn...I can't imagine how hard and disappointing that must be.

Her funeral was so full of Jesus and why we are here, and what it looks like to live a life for all the right reasons, focused on the truly most important things. Dad preached and did a really excellent job. Got in a political comment, just enough to make the whole family laugh/squirm, and somehow even that felt right.

I didn't get to see her apartment emptied out. I think that would have been helpful. Also, she didn't look like herself in the casket, I didn't think. Her lips were spread too wide. She definitely was not in that body anymore, that's for sure. During the wake she was in one room and the family was in another all together, laughing, eating, talking. And when I went to her casket I felt so convinced that I was touching a shell. The party was in the next room over. She would have been by the food.

Just one closing thought. I have shared a few conversations and emails with friends talking about how they wish they had such a family. And I guess I have two responses: 1) I wish you did too. and 2) This family is far from perfect. But the truth remains that love and forgiveness fill in a whole lot of hurtful places, because this family knows the Lord. And what is so inspiring to me, is that somewhere, generations before me, a husband and wife decided to bend a knee and made a promise, "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." And now, because of some great, great, great, great grandpa and grandma, I am living in the blessing of a Christ-filled family. There are hurts a plenty, but there is even more grace. That's the difference. So to the friends who wish their family behaved something like the Bredbergs, I guess I'd say, bend a knee. And you'll get be the great, great, great, great grandma or grandpa to some great, great, great, great grandchild like me one day. And she'll be unable to find the words to thank you for the gift you have given to her.

no, seriously velma, well done.

Grandma b died yesterday with her kids surrounding her bed and singing this hymn, "Oh Jesus I have promised to serve you to the end." Just read those words above again. The woman was preaching even in her final breath!

When we got the news, Rory and I talked for a long time imagining what she must be experiencing at that very moment. We imagined Jesus saying, "No, seriously Velma, well done. I mean, you ran that race. You fought that good fight. Well done!" And then we imagined the enormous family reunion she was walking into, a joyous celebration as she stood before grandpa b, a man she has been lonesome for for almost fifteen years. And then to be reunited with her mom and dad, her sister Elsie, her best friend Minnie. On Monday I was looking at a picture album my Aunt Connie had put together of all of Grandma's ancestors and nearly every person in that book is no longer alive. I imagine her walking from this world of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and into the welcoming committee of that photo album: her grandparents, her parents, aunts and uncles, life-long friends, siblings, a baby she miscarried between her first two girls.

I believe all of this to be true. And let me tell you, it puts wind in my sails. She ran this race with so much love and determination, all to be sure that the next generation knows the love of their Savior. That was the most important thing for her. In a conversation earlier this week, she asked my cousin Dan if he would speak of the importance of passing on the faith at her funeral. She just keeps on preaching!

I'm not sad yet. I don't know quite how to describe this, but I feel strengthened. Empowered. Like the baton was passed and its my turn to run. What a role model I had! What a teacher! To God be the Glory for a life well lived.

great, great grandsons

This is pretty cool. These two little boys have the same great, great grandparents. It makes them third cousins on Rory's side. I wish I had someway to show this in a family tree, because I finally just wrapped my visual head around it, but I think it is so amazing to think that four generations later, these little boys will grow up knowing each other as family. It reminds me of Sara's song, "to my great, great, great grandson, live in peace." It's amazing how the heritage of one couple four generations ago is still felt so strongly today.
I like this picture. I think it looks like Henry is saying, "tell me again how we're related?"

And the mama's. Marlene's cousin Debbie had us over for a new baby brunch. It was a fantastic morning with two new moms so happy to be out of the house for the morning! Thanks Debbie for having us over. I wish I had a picture of all of us!

42 years

Yesterday was my mom and dad's 42nd wedding anniversary! Rory, Ivar and I met them for supper last night and heard their they met, their quick 6 weeks of dating before getting engaged and all about their wedding. When we left I thanked them for sticking together. I don't take for granted the fact that my folks are still married. It's the greatest gift they could have ever given me and my marriage. I have learned so much from them as they modeled what it looks like to fight fair, to love each other well and to still enjoy and appreciate each others company! Here's a blast from one of those 42 years in the past:

seven grandkids under age seven

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Alrighty. I can't just post a picture a day without some explanation. It's been bugging me since the second I posted these pictures. Also bugging me is the fact that my text is centered again. Rory talked me through how to fix this once, but I must not have been listening really well...

So this weekend we had my brother's family from Seattle and my sister's family from Montana all in town for one big Harrington Holiday. It was a blast. And loud. And very, very special. We feasted, celebrated my brother's becoming a partner in his law firm with a 'Howdy Partner' Cowboy party, decorated the Christmas tree, opened Christmas presents, played lots of twister, swaddled lots of babies and baby dolls, went sledding and had a beautiful baptism service for Svea and Ivar. The weekend flew by and today I am lonesome for some niece and nephew love.

sweet cousins.

Last year I took the above two pictures of Mara and Claire Helen laughing and enjoying each others suppertime company. Apparently Sonna has been looking at those pictures and before coming to Minnesota kept saying that she wanted to sit by Claire Helen this time. I think she could tell how much fun the older cousins were having together.

But this year, Sonna and Penny won the suppertime picture series. I love how much these cousins all love each other!

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my sister is here!

I have not been patient in waiting for this day, but the day finally came! It has been two long months waiting to get to meet her baby Svea, and on Tuesday Annika and I were finally introduced to each other's babies!

The last time I saw Annika, we looked like this:
That picture was taken at the end of June! And now those babies who were growing on the inside are here on the outside. So, so amazing.

Their arrival caused a bit of a family gathering at our house. My aunt Louie and cousins Kathy and Mark came for dinner and we enjoyed a house full of company. We ate chili, passed the babies around shared some hard laughs. Precious family time.

dad and baby

Rory is 33 today. I found this picture of him and his dad and I cannot wait for what is ahead of us this year. I can't wait to watch him as a father.

I'm actually more consumed today with how quickly the next 33 years will go by, and how his own mom must be feeling today wondering how life moves so quickly.

first day of school

My niece, Mara, has her first day of kindergarten on Tuesday. I will be thinking of her all day. She told me on the phone tonight, "...and I go a full day because that's what I picked." Annika seems to be handling it well, but I got all emotional tonight thinking about how fast time goes by and how grown up she acts sometimes. She began our conversation tonight by saying, "I already know what you're going to say. You're going to say, do you think you'll have fun at kindergarten tomorrow?" I laughed and laughed. That was exactly what I was going to say.

Tonight I was looking through pictures and pulled a few of my favorites. I love you Mara! You are going to LOVE school. I loved every single grade and I really think you will too.


I feel like I have too many thoughts flying around in my head lately. I can't hardly think through one full circumstance without launching 12 other semi-related thoughts. I am really scattered and because of feeling scattered, I feel unproductive. My true nemesis.

Saturday I had an entire day to myself. Rory was at a CPR class, and it was just me with not a whole lot planned. But the day came and went and it was neither restful or productive. I filled it with lots of parts of projects but didn't complete anything and didn't feel like I had much to show for the day. Even if I had sat on the couch and napped and read all day I would count that as productive, as long as I felt rested. But I didn't feel restored from a day of rest either. (Plus, I babysat a 18 month old who completely took it out of me! She kicked my, and my clean apartment's hiney. We both looked very messy when she left and it was my first sobering, slightly less joyful look at the season ahead.)

So this morning I sat down and made a list of all that has been running through my head. I did a brain dump. I listed the serious concerns and lesser subtopics that keep popping up and wrote down next to each one why it is weighing on me.

The interesting thing, is that there were two on the list that required the back of the paper to fully flesh out why I've been so affected. I'll share one.

My aunt Jan just recently had the most horrible of surgeries I could ever imagine. She has cancer of the tongue, and hasn't been able to eat food since last July when she had the cancer removed. (Her husband has faithfully tube fed her six times a day for the past 12 months.) But the cancer came back and this time the doctors decided they needed to remove a lot more of her tongue, replacing it with skin from her wrist. The surgery was two weeks ago, and the recovery has not been smooth. She is now turning a corner and we praise God for his healing hand.

When I was writing this down on my list, I kept writing and realized that the very hardest part of this surgery and scary season my family is walking through, for me, has been watching the toll it has taken on my mom. As a daughter, it is really hard to see your own mom cry so hard. She is very close to Aunt Jan; they talk every single day. And now Aunt Jan can't talk. Mom has been to the hospital daily and calls to give me updates. Those first calls after the surgery, she sounded so beat up. So exhausted and shook.

I think, being so close to my own sister, this has been even more painful to watch and imagine. It's hard to know what to say...even to my mom. And it has left me with a heavy heart, waiting each day to hear the progress from the hospital.


I continued with my list, which grew quite long with every running thought in my head, and a strange peace began to settle in. As my list grew, my grace for myself grew too. I could finally see clearly that there is just a lot happening right now, and I think I have been trying too hard to keep on keeping on. I'm now thinking my time in this season might be best spent going item by item on my list and trying to do something that would sedate that thought for a while. And even as I am typing that I am realizing that my "doing something" should really be to take this list and to turn the whole thing into prayer. This heavy load has gotten me down, and I don't think I'm supposed to carry it anymore.

a day to celebrate!

My dad is celebrating another year today! I'm not going to say how old, not because he cares, but because next year will be a big decade change, and it sort of makes me sad that my dad is getting older!

He is definitely a man worthy to celebrate. His life has been so good and full of the best things...lots of good people, good work being done in the world, and a family that he loves and loves him back.

So Happy Birthday Dad! I say next year you take the family on an Alaskan cruise to celebrate! What do you say?!!


My nieces Mara and Sonna have their birthdays next week. Mara will turn 5 and Sonna will turn 3. This picture is a year old, and I can't believe how much they've grown in one year. Plus, Mara just looks different when her eyes are open! :)

I was on the phone last night with Mara when she told me, "I wish my birthday was in the winter because then it will be more soon. I always say, mom, is it my birthday yet? when is it going to be my birthday? when is it going to be my birthday? But now it is this Monday. And there isn't even another Monday before it. Just today, and then another day and another and another and then it's my birthday."

I started writing that quote down word for word the second she said because then it will be more soon. She has been talking about her birthday for months now, and I'm so happy she finally will get to celebrate turning five!

hot tub time machine.

My sister and her family went to a hotel swimming pool for a few hours to try to beat the Montana winter they are living through. She and her husband and their 4 1/2 year old and 2 1/2 year old were all in the hot tub and were talking about the movie with the hot tub that travels through time with people.

So the question was asked, "If you could be anywhere with anyone, where would you go and with who?"
Annika called me to report that Mara didn't even inhale before she blurted out, "Aunt Becca. McDonald's."

Have I mentioned I love that 4 1/2 year old with my whole heart? And I love that she chose McDonald's as our final destination, because a) we're simple people like that b) I still order happy meals and often save my girl toys for her and c) I would meet this girl at McDonald's any day. You can take all the tropical destination in the world, I'm going to McDonald's with my niece.

Then it was Sonna's turn, who replied, "Grandma Margaret. Old McDonald's Farm."

(I don't know when I will stop laughing out loud at this story.)

my crafty mama

My mom is blogging! I got her set up with her own blog a month ago so she can share her creations. My mom and the entire Bredberg side are the craftiest of the crafty. This is the side of the family I visited while in Mesa and basically they just play all day...(you'll see in the pictures!) They do stained glass, make stepping stones (she made the five in her blog header), quilting, meet to make cards, fused glass, make jewelery, and all sorts of woodworking (by Uncle Don and Uncle Wayne if you count ALL of the construction he has done at Venture Out!)

So enjoy! Click here to see all of her and the Mesa families creations! (And leave a comment or two so she'll stay motivated to keep posting!!!! )

passing on the faith

We are right in the middle of 'Believing God' and I am, once again, learning so much. But for me the coolest thing about the study this time around is getting to do this Bible Study with my mom and my grandma. Not to mention the women from all different parts of my life who have also joined in this online study. It is a sweet community, and I am grateful.

When I was in Mesa, I found this list taped to my grandma's bathroom mirror. It's the five statements that the study is based upon, and part of the study is to memorize them. I saw them taped on her mirror, in her handwriting, and in that moment realized what a true treasure this opportunity truly is... to get to study and learn God's Word with my grandma. My heart overflows with thanksgiving for this sweet 10 weeks of growing in faith with her, and for her strong example to never stop learning God's commands and to always follow Jesus.

add this one to your reader....

I recently entered a giveaway on a design blog. The question you had to answer under 'comments' was: Who is your fashion guru. Most people wrote fancy names of people who live in fancy places. I wrote down the fancy name, Kristin Jagodzinske who lives in the fancy land of Seattle.

Kristin is my cousin Daron's wife and I'm pretty sure I've referenced her blog here a couple times. She married into my extended family when I was an impressionable 6th grader and I've always thought she's wonderful. And she just announced big news. She is now a writer for HotMama, a boutique that sells fabulous clothes to fabulous mamas.

There are a few different Mamas who blog for this site, but Kristin just started her gig as ADOPTIONmama. She will be writing the details of adopting two siblings from Ghana, how the first year has gone, what the waiting period was like (they waited a long, long time...) and how she parents five kids between the ages of 4 and 10.

She's a fun writer to read, shares her life with honesty and I, for one, can't wait to hear more of the details of how she has processed the last two years. Be sure to keep tabs on her at ADOPTIONmama.