Sunday, November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has got to be one of my favorite holidays! It's the start to the holiday season! And it's one day dedicated to being grateful for everything I've been blessed with in my life. And I truly have blessed with a lot. A loving family, a wonderful husband, great friends. The best pets. A job. A house. Two cars. Health.

I had a wonderful holiday. Dave and I spent time with our dogs and went on our favorite outing -- to the dog park. Then we went to my sister Becky's house. My family was there and so was my brother-in-law's family, so we had a full house. If you noticed all my jib-jab videos from Thanksgiving, you might have guessed that my nieces loved the one that I made of the three of us, and then wanted to make more with the rest of our family. We had a special visitor towards the end of the night. Romo, the new guy Rachel is dating!!! It was fun to meet him!

Here are some pics. They're in reverse chronological order...be sure to watch the video at the end!

Emily and Amanda with their cousins, Dustin and Brandon.

Dave with the Miller's new dog, Midge.


Rachel and Becky doing dishes.

Dinner!

Mom is making the gravy. Dad's making sure she's making it right.

Emily took on of the giant turkey legs (which is funny b/c she never eats anything).


Cooper is so handsome!

Dave and Otis!


My boys and I!

Here's a video of the dogs running around at the dog park. They love trailblazing through the tall grass and chasing each other. I love watching them run free at the park!


video

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scrapbook weekend!!

Scrapbook weekend was a blast and I have some pics to prove it! I brought my friend Krissy along. Actually she drove Gina and myself up to the cabin Friday weekend. I had no idea that this would be such an organized affair!! When we went into the basement all the tables were set-up. After dinner, we each received goody bags with all the scrapbook essentials -- some paper, a glue-stick, some Tylenol and chocolate! I hadn't really scrapbooked in 3 or 4 months, so I had stored up lots and lots of scrapbooking energy. Friday night, I stayed up until 1 or so in the morning scrapbooking the whole time. Saturday after breakfast we scrapbooked all day, except for some breaks for lunch and dinner. Saturday night we did a drawing for the door prizes. Later, Krissy, Gina, Andee and I went into the hot tub that was outside on the deck. And later, we had ice cream sundaes. Once again, we stayed up until the early morning hours scrapbooking. And we spent another 2-3 hours scrapbooking Sunday morning before packing up, cleaning and leaving for home. I worked on my wedding scrapbook. Although it was a couple of years ago, completing the scrapbook is on my things to do. I only have a couple of pages left, so hopefully I can find some spare time to finish it soon. And I'm voting for another scrapbook weekend in late winter!

Oh, the things you'll see in Minnesota's small towns [during deer hunting season.]

Welcome to Emily, MN

Our cabin. We were roughing it, don't you think?




The view of the lake from the deck. It's hard to tell, but it's covered with ice.


Scrapbooking pics....




The holiday card Gina made. Katrina had made a bunch of cards and was teaching us the patterns. BTW...Andee has a new-found love for card-making.



Lisa working hard on her card.




Andee won one of the door prizes.


Grandma Rose drawing the names. Coincidentally, Andee was mixing up the names. lol.


Jody serving dinner and laughing about something. Good times!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A little update...

I guess I’ve been MIA on my blog. I guess I did post a little something today, but nothing much about life with the Balows in more than a week and that’s a long time for me. In my own personal life, it’s been the same old stuff…but I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about life lately. And really busy.

Normally after work during the week, you’ll either find me working out or (and more likely) you’ll find me at home. That wasn’t me last week. I spent a lot of time catching up with friends and hopefully, I’ve “been there” for some of them when they’ve needed support. I have a couple of friends going through some really, really tough times. But on the other hand, I have several friends going through some fun and exciting times (like finding out they’re expecting babies.) So I guess no matter how bad things seem to be in this world of ours, there always are wonderful, good things happening too.It's great to be reminded – that I have some really good friends I need to make sure I’m taking time to hang out with friends.

That's one of the things I'm up to this weekend. Tomorrow is girls' weekend. We're going to be scrapbooking -- or at least that's what we're supposed to be doing. We're going to be staying at this cabin in Emily, Minn. It looks pretty snazy. I'm really grateful that Dave and his family have such great friends and now they're my friends too. I'm glad that it has worked out that way. I guess it's the unintended benefit of falling in love with someone. I fell in love with Dave...and now because of that I've become part of another great family, and I love and care for some many more people than just Dave. It's just something remarkable about it that I never really thought about before I was in love with someone.

Last Saturday, my sister, Rachel, had a house-warming party. She bought a really cute condo in Minneapolis. She had a pretty good party! Although I drove up there with my parents, so we left probably just as it started getting fun. But I was tired, so it was fine with me to head home early. Dave was supposed to go, but instead decided to go to the Wild game with Andee...she got some free tickets through work. I miss those days when I used to get free sporting events tickets through work.

Last Sunday at church, I felt so inspired. Do you ever have those experiences at church when you just connect with the message and with God more than the usual Sunday? Afterward, I just wanted to do good. Part of it probably had to do with the adult education. The mother of Greg Mortenson came and spoke about the work his son is doing in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He's building schools for the children, especially the girls, in various mountain villages, which provides so many opportunities to the villages where the majority of the people are illiterate when Greg first arrives. It's such an inspirational story. In fact, he's the guy who wrote the book, Three Cups of Tea. I am going to borrow the book from my mom soon. After church, about 50 people all went to lunch to an Afghanistan restaurant, which was surprisingly good (it was the first time I tried that type of food.)

Another reason why I felt so inspired Sunday was that I was so pleased with the turnout of gifts for the soldiers. I had just mentioned at the beginning of the service a week ago that I'd be collecting gifts that Sunday for soldiers in Iraq on behalf of Dave's co-worker, who was sending Christmas care packages to her husband's battalion. My whole backseat was filled with all kinds of stuff....books, magazine, food, toiletries. It was great to hopefully help make the holidays a little more cheerful for those who are away from their families.

Also, we had the Armful of Love tree up at church. Another great annual Christmas tradition. We adopt families through Armful of Love and the families provide us with their wish lists. The families are often those less fortunate who can't afford presents for each other. Often they are families with children (actually that's one of the requirements, I think). Persons are church can pick which gift of the wish list that we're going to get. I picked clothes for a 6-week girl. Got her some cute stuff at Target.

Tonight Dave, Krissy and I volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. Another great organization with a great cause. If you're not familiar with it....basically you assemble meals that are sent to starving children around the world. The meals have made so that they have the nutrients the kids need to overcome the affects of starvation. We packaged lots and lots of meals.

And since I keep talking about all these ways I'm trying to help make a difference...here's one last one. I recently found out that the team I was on for Light the Night, which raised money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was one of the top ten fund-raising teams! #9! Thanks again to everyone who was able to support me!

So that's a lot of random stuff to update you on what's been going on with us. Nothing crazy or really exciting. But just living and trying to make it all worthwhile...and having a little bit of fun mixed in there with friends and family.

MN Senate Race Recount...

The Senate race in Minnesota was so close that state law requires a mandatory recount. As ugly as this race is/was, the good part is that we get to continue the suspense of who will be representing Minnesota next January. I love watching the election results come in, and I can keep tabs on the recount in the weeks to come (and so can you), by following along on the Minn. Secretary of State's Web site.

Will Norm keep his 200-some vote lead? Will Franken gain votes and take over the lead?? Or my dream -- will the third party candidate surprise all and win the race?? That is to be determined.

One thing I know for sure -- I am glad I'm not one of the people who has to recount the ballots by hand.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day!

One of my favorite Veterans... :)

Dear Vets,

Happy Veteran's Day! Thanks to all the Vets for their service to our country. The people of our country honor and respect you for your service. For your willingness to put our country's security and our freedom before your own interests; for spending time overseas away from your families; for the pain you feel for your fallen comrades; for living without everyday conveniences like showers and phones; for the transition of returning to everyday life after a deployment -- deserves our tremendous appreciation. Although this day is declared for your recognition, we are thankful for your service each and every day.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Jenny

Have you thanked a vet yet today? Don't worry you still have time.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oh, what a week!

Most of my weeks seem to blur together....usually each week consists of the same old stuff -- work, sleep, eat, hang out with my family, being lazy on the weekends. Well, this last week was great. Lot's of pretty major stuff going on. Here's a quick recap.

Monday night, we finally, finally got our new car! We finally got the payout for our old car from the insurance company, so we went out right away to pick up the car that my uncle has been saving on his car lot for the last several weeks until we had the money. It's quite a beautiful car...a 2001 Audi A6 quatro. If you're ever looking for a quality used car at an affordable price, go to my uncle's lot, Bob's Auto Ranch.

Tuesday was a great day too. I could hardly concentrate on work as I had to wait until the afternoon to go vote (but I got to leave work 2 hours early). I completed #7 on my 101 in 1,001 list. Voted for Barack Obama as President of the United States.
My dad came over to watch the election results with me. Dave came home after school and got to watch most of it with us too. My mom was an election judge, so she was working. Before my dad left, we invited our next door neighbors over to help us eat this:


It all hasn't fully sunk in yet -- that Barack Obama is our President Elect. I keep finding myself at random moments just thinking about the achievement he's made and also just a little bit more hopeful for our future. On Wednesday, for some reason I was thinking about the War in Iraq, and finally, for the first time, the end of that war is in sight. On Friday night, Dave and I watched the movie Glory, and once again the historical significance about this election was made evident. The movie is about the Civil War's first African American volunteer company. In the beginning of the movie, the soldiers are just getting to know each other. Here's the conversation:

John Rawlins: Where about you from?
Trip: I'm from around Tennessee. I ran away when I was 12 years old and I ain't never looked back.
Sharts: What ya doin' since then?
Trip: I run for President. [laughter]
Trip: I ain't winning, though.

You really have to watch the movie in order to fully grasp the meaning of the conversation. But there was quite a bit of tension between these guys as they all came from different places and had different philosophies of their place in life. Denzel Washington's character (Trip) pointed out in a sarcastic joke that they did have something in common. And today, no one really can say a comment like that. It's just amazing what's been overcome.

On Friday, I woke up to this. No joke.
Hmm...there will be plenty more of this to come. The good thing was that it melted by lunch time.

This weekend's been good. We went to Andee and Bryan's house last night, for Andee's welcome home party with her family. It was fun to see all the Dobosenskis and the Reeses, who all came down from Duluth or up from St. Peter. Hopefully Gigi will post some of the pics that Gavin took. We missed seeing Jody (she was at her Aunt's wedding in Ohio). But it made me super excited for our scrapbooking girls' weekend that's just in a couple of weeks now!

Another cool thing we're doing (actually Dave is doing) is that he is coordinating sponsoring a battalion that's in Iraq for Christmas at his work. His co-worker's husband is one of the soldiers in the unit. He's asking the gym members to bring gifts (like toiletries and non-perishable food and DVDs and magazines), so that it can be sent over there in time for Christmas. I'm proud of Dave for supporting the troops. I thought it was a pretty good cause, so today at church I made an announcement asking members of my congregation to donate stuff and help contribute money for the shipping. Just today, I got $40 to go towards shipping. And hopefully next week people will remember to bring items to give. I just sympathize so much for the troops that have to be away at the holidays and for the families that are missing their loved ones at Christmas. Anything that I can do to ease the homesickness a little bit for the troops, I'll gladly do.

For this week's grand finale, we went to see the musical, Wicked. It was my first time seeing this show (although I've been listening to the CD), and it was WICKED FANTASTIC! My sister, Becky, and brother-in-law, Steven, got Dave, Rachel and I tickets for our birthdays this year. And before the show, they treated us to Famous Dave's for dinner first. Yum and fun!

Monday, November 3, 2008

In anticipation of election day...

Tomorrow is election day! I came across an image gallery of "Get out the Vote" posters by members of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts). There are some really cool ones, some inspirational ones, and they're all non-partisan. If you have a minute or two, I highly encourage you to check them out and choose your favorites.

Here's my favorite.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick-or-Treat

Here's some pics of me and my nieces and Otis trick-or-treating last night. Emily was Madeline and Amanda was a princess. Otis was Mr. Incredible, of course!




Also in this pic is the Miller's new dog, Midge, and a couple of girls from across the street, Zoe and Zara.