Family Game Night

This past Friday, we had a family game night.    Usually on Friday nights we have piano lessons.  The kids get off the bus and are whisked into the car to drive to Ms. Gwen’s house for piano.

So for the rare Friday that we don’t have piano lessons, we try to relish our time together as a family.

This past Friday we decided to have a family game night.  We each got to pick a game.  We ordered pizza.  We ate chips and salsa.  We took time to enjoy each other.  We even listened to John Denver’s greatest hits.

Here is Evelyn’s thoughts about our night:

Evelyn likes Family Game Night

Skippity and chips - yummy fun!

We heart Parkway Pizza

A hot game of Pengoloo - I can never remember where those colors are

Can I get a RACKO?

A great way to end the night - a hot game of Sorry!

It was a lovely evening.  We stayed home.  We spent time together.  We talked.  We laughed.  And somewhere in my heart, I know these kinds of nights won’t last forever.  Soon Friday nights will be all about friends and not family.  So I’m holding tight to these kinds of moments – moments that fill me as a mom – moments that I know are truly a gift.

And I want to be purposeful in making time to create more of these moments – and hold on to them – for as long as I can.

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A Busy Weekend

I have learned that being a full time teacher, full time mom, and full time wife takes a lot of time.  There is often little to no time for being the reader, movie watcher, poem writer,  dinner maker, and frankly – just friend that I want to be.

And I have come to savor my weekends.

Except that as a full time teacher, mom, and part-time of those other things I can’t even remember, I realize my weekends are often jammed packed.

Often these things are good things.  Things I like.  Things that help me as a mom, teacher, reader, dinner maker, and friend.

But they often suck up precious hours.

This weekend was one of those busy weekends.

Evelyn's thoughts about a busy weekend

It started with Evelyn’s first swim meet Friday night.  It was a new experience for all of us.  We felt like rookie parents, and I know she wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  It was a lot of fun for all of us.  I’m not sure she loves competing – but she did have fun.

still smiling - even after one of her 3 races

Saturday was filled with jobs around the house and errands.  We did end up at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival for a few moments after dinner.  We saw the ice sculptures and enjoyed some warm coffee/hot chocolate treats.

are they happy? maybe those smiles are frozen?

Sunday afternoon we headed to the Orpheum Theater to see The Lion King.  Wow!  I actually felt so moved by the opening song I felt myself tearing up.  For those few short hours I felt completely transported.  It was an amazing way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  Thanks to Grandma Laurie and Papa Jerry for the perfect Christmas gift for our family!

a happy family - just before the show

It was a lovely weekend.  I spent time with people I love.  I did things I had to do.  I did things I like to do.  And it was busy.

Which I’ve learned isn’t always so bad…

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Winter Break

Here it is – the Sunday before we head back to school.  We have had a lovely 2 weeks off.  I feel fortunate that we still had a full 2 weeks off.  Many other schools did not have such a luxury.  Time is a gift I am always grateful for.

It was kind of a mad flurry to teach up until December 23, and then have Christmas hit us the very next day.  As Evelyn will explain, week one was filled with family and Christmas and activities.

Here it is in Evelyn’s words:

Evelyn had a lot to say about Winter Break

jumping at Zero Gravity

can you feel the sibling love? (he lost his tooth after Evelyn punched him)

Week two of break did seem like a different pace for us.  I had knee surgery on Tuesday which basically kept me home and laying around for the rest of the week.  It was fun to watch movies as a family.  We especially loved sharing our love of Harry Potter to our children.  Now Evelyn and Lars are fans too!

But there wasn’t much action.  There wasn’t a lot of activity.

And that was O.K.

Week two of break really was a break.  A break from our normal rush.  A forced time of quiet and relaxing.  We had to creatively find things to do with each other and things I could do with one leg elevated.

And we did it.

So now it’s back to school.  Ready or not, here we come!

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Happy New Year

So here it is – 2012.

Does it feel different?  Not really.  Not yet anyway.

Yesterday we read our New Year’s letters we wrote last year.  And we wrote to ourselves. We set some goals for ourselves, and recorded who we are in the present.

Writing our new New Year's letter

Writing and Reading - about our past and our future

Here are Evelyn’s highlights of 2011 in no particular order: (we thought it sounded cool to say top 7 of 2011 because it rhymes)

top 7 of 2011

And here are mine:  (i’ll stop at 5 – even though 5 and 11 don’t rhyme)

1.  Traveling – our trips to New York City, Boston, Maine, and my 40th birthday trip to NYC with my cousin, are the top of my list.   It was a wonderful year of going places.  It was a stretch for me, the homebody, and I loved it!  (2012 is the year of saving money so we can travel again.)

2.  Health – As much as it’s not exactly a highlight, Steve’s health issues have been at the forefront of my life these past 5 months.  It took us months to come up with a diagnosis – an inner ear deficit – and we are hopefully moving in a positive direction.  But having a spouse be unhealthy has changed the way I see things.   Life was not exactly easy for a few months, but I realized how grateful I am for doctors, and diagnostic testing, and specialists, and despite how bad our coverage may be – health insurance.  And it made me realize how much I depend on Steve – he is truly my partner in life.

3.  Colleagues – As a teacher, I have come to realize that I can not do this job alone.  There are definitely teachers who do that.  The students come in, and they shut their door and teach.  But I can’t do that.  I need people around me holding me up, supporting me, encouraging, me, and helping me.  My teaching colleagues are amazing men and women who are not only Minneapolis’s finest teachers, they are the BEST friends I could ask for as a teacher.  There are countless moments in 2011 that I have relied on these people day in and day out.  They make me a better teacher, and they make me a better me.

4.  Life coordinator – I like that title most of the time.  I am the Ramgren family life coordinator.  Sometimes I think of myself as the glue that holds our family together.  Sometimes the glue doesn’t always stick.  But between piano lessons, swim team, soccer, school, school work, making lunches, choir, church, and the daily things that keep our lives running – I realize our lives are a balancing act – and I try daily (hourly) to maintain the balance.  And that is a full time job.   And that is a job that I treasure.

5.  Writing – I have always enjoyed writing, and I decided to do more of it in 2011.  I tried writing more with Evelyn on our blog (which has been sorely neglected lately).  I started a blog for my poetry (http://bramgren.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/im-a-poet/).  I gave myself a writing challenge in the month of November – my month of gratitude (http://gratefulramgren.wordpress.com/2011/10/).  I have found a new voice for myself.  It’s not perfect – sometimes it’s not even good – but it’s mine.  And it has been a pleasure to write more.

So what about 2012?  Here we are – in a new year.  What are our goals?

Here is what Evelyn came up with…

Evelyn has some good goals for the new year

As for me?

1.  Continue to write – and continue to refine (redefine, refind) my voice.

2.  Show love – share love – be loving.

3.  Be healthy – however that may look – in what I eat and what I do physically and mentally – I want to live in a healthy place.

Who will we be in a year?  I’m not sure.  But my hope is that we will be people who love deeply and fiercely, and share who we are and what we have with others.  I want my family to be people who will seek justice and love mercy and truly walk humbly with our God.  Here’s to 2012!

Happy New Year.

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Santa Lucia

This past weekend, we celebrated Santa Lucia Day at our church, Bethlehem Covenant.  We come from a long line of Swedish heritage – both Steve and I have Swedish ancestory.  (Steve likes to remind me that he is 100%, while I’m a mere 13/16.)  So this day has been special to us even before going to Bethlehem Covenant.

But once we started going to, and participating in this tradition, we’ve been hooked!

my star boy and the lucia girls

tomtes and star boys and gingerbreads - oh my!

Who doesn’t love men in knickers singing songs in Swedish?  The little tomte’s with their crooked red hats are adorable.  The fruit soup is delicious.  The candles are beautiful.

And all the festivities remind us that we are in the darkness.  But Christmas is coming.  The light will soon be here.

This year Evelyn was a dancer.  It seemed like we waited years and years for her to finally become a tomte – and now she’s a dancer?  Before we know it she’ll be lucia, with the candle crown on her head.

my favorite dancer and star boy -

Read what Evelyn had to say about her day.

Evelyn enjoyed being a dancer at Lucia

It is a special tradition.  It is fun and festive.  It really does remind us of the importance of light in a dark time of year – and in a dark world.

And there is something special about holding fast to tradition.  To doing the same things year after year.  To the familiarity of something.  To remembering our past.

Do I want Lars and Evelyn to speak Swedish?  Not necessarily.  But do I want them to hear those songs each year?  Absolutely!

And to each of you I say – hold fast to your tradition – cling to something from your heritage – and share it with your children – and of coure – God Jul!

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Camping Trip

The 4th and 5th graders from Keewaydin school went on a camping trip to Camp St. Croix, near Hudson, WI.  Evelyn was excited about the trip, and we were glad she had an opportunity like this.

Since I don’t have a lot to say about it, I’ll let you read Evelyn’s thoughts.  She had a great trip.

Evelyn's thoughts on Camp St. Croix

Now if only I could get her to spell first correctly.  Perhaps we need more editing before publishing?

Next time…

(ps – they met not me their teachers and ann = and)

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The Apple Orchard

Yesterday we enjoyed a perfect fall day at Pine Tree Apple Orchard.  My brother and his family were in town for the weekend, and going to an orchard seemed like good family fun.

And it was.

I felt compelled to take a number of apple shots.  Somehow the colors in the trees were true works of art to me.

apples in tree

color contrast

the red bursts out!

For Evelyn it was about doing something fun with her cousins.  Here is what she had to say about it:

Evelyn had a lot to say

For her it was all about cousins,

Evelyn, Lars, Kirstin, and Joel

the corn maze,

entering the corn maze...

and family fun!

cousins resting with pumpkins

For me, it was all about a beautiful fall day, a lovely drive to a lovely location, good people, and apples of course.

family fun!

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