fun for the fly

Elsie told me, "Mom, I can't pick these toys up because this is the little park I made for the fly that is crawling around on the carpet. I think he is dying."

songs for lent

The church I grew up in held Lenten services each Wednesday night. We sang no Alleluja's for those 40 days and things were thoughtful and weighty. Ash Wednesday was a powerful service that, just like a tragic funeral, reminded you of your mortality. A harsh reality we are so great at avoiding most of the time. Ash Wednesday set the tone. From dust you came to dust you shall return. We then had 40 days to contemplate what that meant. Wondering how our sinful selves stood a chance in front of an Almighty God. And over and over it was preached to us: you don't stand a chance.

That's the point of the 40 days. Those days would get me good and uncomfortable, aware of my sin, aware of my need for rescue. And then the gospel of Jesus would be proclaimed: You don't stand a chance in front of our Almighty God, but God loved us so much that he sent a rescuer to save us. His son came and died on a cross, the ultimate sacrifice so that no more animal sacrifices are necessary. He bridged the chasm of sin with his blood.

By Good Friday, I often felt positively heavy. The weight of The Passion, the darkness of our sin, the gravity of a hopeless and lost world felt very real. The Good Friday service was also a favorite, with the seven last words of Jesus sang by the choir and then reflected on by seven different people in our congregation. The service ended with a woman singing, "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?" And the altar guild would come up and quietly remove all decoration from the front of the church as the lights began to dim. And then the church was completely dark and silent.

We left the sanctuary in silence and everything felt holy and heavy.


Andrew Peterson is about to release an Easter Album that I'm very eager to hear. But before that album is released he is sharing five songs he wrote surrounding Lent. I want to share them with you because they have left me in a similar posture as the Lenten services did growing up.

Wrestle with this story. Be sure you are standing on the right side of truth. I actually find the entire storyline completely believable. It is no stretch for me to believe that left to our own devises, we are full of sin and greed and jealousy and lust and are eager to make and worship idols. We see these truths played out all around us.

It is also not hard for me to believe that there is a God who made the stars. A God who is loving and creative and imaginative and good.

When I read my Bible knowing that man is fallen and God wants his relationship restored with his creation, the whole story rings completely true. It is true. Every word.

So crack open your Bible. Get back into God's Word. It's the only thing that makes sense these days.

And enjoy these songs to prepare your heart for Good Friday.
Well Done, Good and Faithful
Last Words
Always Good

family fun days, day #2

Annnnnd, I'm back! Well hold onto your drool bib, because this day was also a huge, fun-filled Family Fun Day! It started with Ivar and Elsie building their lego sets from yesterday. Then we ate an incredible breakfast at the hotel. Except, I just had rice cereal and prunes. Which I didn't mind one bit. So delicious. I just love food. 
Then we came back to the room and while Dad shoveled the car out, we found DANIEL TIGER on the tv! Oh the joy! The happiness! We were all so thrilled! But here's something hilarious. In this episode Daniel and his friends were sad because the little duckling they had in their classroom had grown too big and had to be taken to a farm. And they were going to miss it so much. Well, Ivar and Elsie had lots of street smarts to tell Daniel and his friends. Elsie said the duck would probably be happier on the farm than in their little box inside. Good point Elsie. And then Ivar schooled Daniel and his pals, "the people at that farm are going to eat your duck!" And he laughed and laughed.
So on this day, we went to the Omni Theatre! Grandpa Paul really, really wanted Ivar to see the movie about the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Ivar and Grandpa have a shared love of trains and that is really fun for them. Grandpa wanted him to see the movie even though Grandpa was in Arizona. So Grandpa said, "I'll pay for your family's tickets and tickets to the Science Museum." What a guy! Thank you very much, Grandpa.
We got there early for the movie, and spent some time in the State Park Exhibit. I've got to say, there is a lot of free stuff to do in the lobby of the Science Museum. Really cool stuff. Like sit in a canoe and wander down the Mississippi River.
And Ivar flew like an eagle and swooped for fish in the river.
And then it was time for the movie. This was my very first movie! In fact, none of us kids had been in a theater before so this was very, very special. The movie was beautiful and Hattie and I made it through 40 whole minutes. Which is 39 more minutes than Mom thought we'd last.
Now do you know this store? It's the Science Museum Store and it is very special to my mom because her mom used to take her shopping in this store quite a bit. It has so many fun and creative and clever toys. Mom could have stayed in there for hours. And after a conversation with Grandma Margaret, this is where the grandkids get to go shopping for Christmas presents this year. Isn't that a fun idea?!!

Well the Science Museum is pretty spendy, so my mom decided to have us go to the Children's Museum instead because tickets cost about half as much and because we are sort of the perfect ages for the Children's Museum.

Now I should add that while leaving the parking ramp of the Science Museum it was discovered that someone lost the parking ticket. We still don't know where it is. Probably at the bottom of the river. But yowza. If you ever want to see my mom and dad frustrated, hide the parking ticket and make them pay the full rate! They'll rip the car apart and search like crazy people and you'll be entertained.
Anyway, they paid the $15 day rate, which was just $6 over what they would have paid. Not actually that much money. But, you know, it's the principle of the thing. We will always wonder where that ticket went.

And then we were off to the Children's Museum! What a fun place!
We got there about 2:00 and it was SO LOUD! There were lots of school groups there and everyone was shrieking and screaming down the fun slide. But about an hour later, the place nearly cleared out and it was much more fun. A worker told Mom that Friday nights, Saturdays and Tuesdays (no field trips that day) are the quietest and calmest. Good to know! I just wanted to pass that on to you so your mom would know too.
Hattie was very happy at the Children's Museum. She liked it all. And played so, so hard. She especially loved the workshop and the light switches that each turned on or off a different light fixture on the ceiling. Imagine walking into Menards lighting section, but getting to turn the lights on and off yourself! So fun!
And Ivar and Elsie played the longest at the Post Office, cranking boxes up to the sorting room, running up the stairs to help sort the boxes and sending them back down the shoot for another round of postal fun. They were sweaty they played so hard!
Then we found the Daniel Tiger Exhibit. It was darling and fun to see parts of our favorite episodes up close. 
We ended in the Studio where Ivar and Mom played with clay, Elsie and Hattie played with moon sand or cloud dough or something like that and I finally decided to give up the fight and close my eyes. I was told later that we ended the trip with Subway for the kids and that Elsie cried the entire way home, very sadly, because the trip was over. When we got home, we all piled into Mom and Dad's bed under their electric blanket because Dad had turned the heat waaaaay down and the house was freezing. Dad read a story to everybody and of all the moments on our Family Fun Days, this one, with all six of us in her bed, was Mom's very favorite part.

family fun days, day #1

Well hello again! It's me, Alden! I have much to share from the two packed days my family kept calling Family Fun Days. They have been on the calendar for a while and greatly anticipated by everyone. You will simply be amazed at how much Mom and Dad decided to pack into these two days. In fact, they would probably say it was a leeetle bit too much. But all in the name of family fun. First, we went to the Minnesota Zoo.
Did you know this is my mom's favorite part of the whole zoo? It's just this little exhibit in Discovery Bay where they have the sea horses, jelly fish, twig fish and things that don't even look like they're alive, but they are. She freaks out about the twig fish every time. Have you seen those before? They're incredible!
Then we walked the tropics trail. Hattie seemed to be very taken by the flamingos and ducks. She just loved watching them down in the water. Dad told us we are going to order a few ducklings with our baby chick order this year, which should be a good time. Ivar asked why we would get ducks and Dad said, "to eat!" So that's exciting.
We spent a lot of time watching the fish, and even saw the scuba guy feeding the fish. I just couldn't believe the different designs on each fish. It looked like a group of children had taken turns coloring each one, some with polka dots, some with stripes, some with both. Mom got inspired for an art project with the big kids...
Then we ate a lunch Mom packed. We were trying to do this trip on a budget and this was a great way to save money, though no one was actually hungry for their sandwiches because a big bag of chips had been consumed on the tropics trail...
And now this is so fun. It turns out my dad is really great at stir stick sculptures! No one knew of this special gift! He just whipped these fancy things up and wowed the whole family. (As well as the lady who was waiting to dump her tray into the trash while we took this picture.)
And then we got to the hotel. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites across from the Mall of America, right across from the Radisson Blu. It was so great! We loved this place! We got an early check in and Dad took the big kids swimming, while Mom tried to put me and Hattie down for naps. And let's be honest, Dad definitely got the better gig, because Hattie and I were like, "wha? you want us to just lay down in this new room? Lady, you crazy." But mom is really persistent. And I do love a good nap, so eventually, I just gave in. Hattie took a little more convincing, but Dad came back and was able to get her to settle down too. Then we woke up and it was time to head to the Mall! Hattie was sort of crabby, so she got a cookie. But I was just so thrilled!
We walked across the parking lot, across the frontage road, up the elevator to the sky way, through a parking garage, by the Blu, through another parking garage and right into Lego Land (with a quick detour to the Local Honey shop..which nearly killed my brother Ivar...)
But then Ivar and Elsie got right down to business. This destination had been discussed at length, what they were going to purchase, what they were going to build. My brother Ivar has just been introduced to Stop Motion Animation and is super into writing scenes for his legos.
And while everyone played with Legos, I worked on my stretches and tried to increase my overall flexibility.
Then we were off to the rides. Elsie chose to go on the Carousel with mom, and really wanted the white horse with the roses.
And Ivar chose to go on the roller coaster for his ride. I don't think he had thought through the whole thing fully. Dad said he was laughing and hooting for the first part and then the ride got very intense and he looked over and Ivar was completely still. Dad said, "are you okay?" And Ivar said, "too. much."
But then it settled down again and by the time the ride ended Ivar said he loved it and gave Mom a long, tight hug to prove it.
We went and ate at the food court, followed by dippin' dots and then went back to the hotel so the whole family could swim. I just stayed in the stroller and kept working on my flexibility, but Hattie hung out on the stairs and Mom played with Ivar and Elsie, but mostly a 5-year-old whose grandpa was talking to my dad about karate. Her name was Ellie and she'd jump into the pool, right by Mom, and pop up to blurt, "I can't swim!" So mom would help her to the wall, where she'd monkey around to the ladder and position herself wherever Mom was, jump back in, pop up and yell again, "I can't swim!" Over and over and over. It was kind of a riot, and kind of patience-inducing.

Needless to say we all went to bed pretty easily that night. We were tuckered! And we had to get our sleep for another full day of family fun ahead...

John Deere Groves, welcome to the farmily

Last Monday I found a John Deere on Craigslist that was from the 50's, a 620. Rory went to check it out and that was the same day I called my Uncle Jake to ask his thoughts. Later that night Rory and Uncle Jake talked and Rory said, "what would you put a guy like me in?" And Uncle Jake said, "A 3020." That was exciting to us because moments earlier, my brother-in-law Jedd had texted Rory, "You need to look for a late 60's John Deere 3020."

Two trusted farmers agreed. We felt so grateful to have our ship pointed in the right direction! That was all on Monday night. Wednesday afternoon a new listing popped up, a John Deere 3020 from 1969, wide front and runs on gasoline. We were floored, because the price was right, the location was 90 minutes away and after months of combing Craigslist, this was the first I saw of it's kind.
Thursday morning Rory drove up and met Myron, drove the tractor and met Myron's HUGE Scottish cows with sharp horns and hair in their eyes. And he bought the tractor. We are just so thrilled at the thought of all we will be able to do in our field because of this tractor!

Today Myron delivered the tractor and parked it in the barn. It started up beautifully. And as he drove it into the barn I said, "we have so much red around here. It really had to be yellow and green."