Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long '09

I am happy to close the door on 2009. Reflecting over the last year, I must say that it was one of the most challenging in my life. We survived a job lay off and some furlough. We lost our baby. Dave's grandma died. Dave's great aunt died. We faced our own relationship ups and downs. But we've survived it all. We've learned a lot about each other and ourselves this year.

Despite our trials, we had a lot of good times in '09 (in chronological order).
I'm looking forward to an awesome 2010. A new decade. A new chapter in our lives. I'm looking forward to this fresh new start. In fact, I took today off work to get our house super clean and organized, so I can start the year off clean in every way. Big things are going to happen in 2010. First, I'm going to pass the math placement test so I can continue towards my master's. God-willing, we will get pregnant this year. But I also want to go on a mission trip to Haiti in June. Dave will be graduating. I'm seriously thinking about running a half-marathon this spring too. We'll have to see how it all works out. There are many adventures to be had this year -- it's just a matter of time to see which ones they will be.

Happy New Year to you all, my friends!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

October in pics

I was uploading photos from my camera and what a surprise I found. Apparently, I've been really lazy this fall and haven't bothered on uploading any pics. Until now. So here's a bunch of pics from October. It was a fun month for the Balows! I blogged about this stuff before, but the pics are fun to see. At least I think so!

I tagged along with Jim and Aimee to the Renaissance Festival. We tried on some hats...among other eating turkey drumsticks.

We went to the last regular season Twins game at the Metrodome! 

We went to the playoff for the playoff game with the Twins vs the Tigers. The most intense baseball game I've ever watched. EVER!

We were so happy when we won!

I took my nieces to the corn maze.

Amanda took a turn leading us through the maze.

Emily and I went trick-or-treating at Murphy's Landing. The horse-drawn trolley took us to the village.

We went to a Vikings game.


All I want for Christmas

Two years ago, Emily wanted two front teeth for Christmas.

This year, two front teeth were Amanda's wish. You wouldn't believe the bribe I had to come up with to get her to sing on camera for me. I had to sing and dance to Dancing Queen...and that video, my friends, will not be seen here! or anywhere!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas, Chubs!

We did it. We found an organization that fit our needs and gave a gift in honor of our baby. Thanks for all of your help suggesting ideas. Through a friend, we learned of an organzation called, Healing Haiti. It's a small non-profit organization that helps orphans and people in Haiti. They provide food, water, education and housing. Right now they're supporting 53 orphans -- and I guess we're supporting them now too.

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope that you feel the spirit of season and that your Christmas will be filled with peace, joy and love.


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Thinking back of Halloween's past, there is one that sticks out in my mind. It was 1991, and we had a huge snowstorm. I remember trecking through huge amounts snow going from house to house for trick-or-treating. And the following day, I remember riding with my dad in his brand new Chevy Blazer and him navigating through streets filled with more than 2 feet of snow so we could go to Panekoeken for breakfast.

That snow storm is why I'm excied that we're supposed to get up 20 inches of snow over Christmas -- starting tonight. If there was ever a memorable Christmas, I would think it would be one where we were stuck in our house and had to hang out in each other's company all day long. Or maybe it'll be memorable when it takes three hours to get to my cousins' house (which is normally about 45 minutes away). Either way -- snow makes things interesting and memorable.

The one thing I love about snow is that it forces you to slow down and relax. It's a reminder that you can't control things. It's a reminder to savor and enjoy each moment. A wicked snowstorm outside makes me want to stay in sweatpants and drink hot cocoa and cuddle with my family. And maybe I'll get a new book or movie for Christmas that I can enjoy. On Christmas, especially this year, I won't be in a rush. I'm going to enjoy the day with my family and appreciate a memorable Christmas in the making.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A little game called....Cool; Not Cool

Cool: Being done with the semester, which means not having class tonight and going home right after work.

Not cool: Being assigned a "reflection paper" on the last night of class and having to write it tonight because it's due tomorrow.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just about done!

Tonight is my last class for the semester! Just one presentation to give and I will be on winter break and I'm officicially passed the half-way mark to getting a Masters degree!

It was a hectic semester -- the first one I've taken two classes at once. I thought other people in my program were crazy for doing two at once, but it would definitely help speed up the time for completing the degree. The first half, I was all about balancing life, work and school, but now it seems like I've been a graduate student forever and I'm getting antsy to just complete it all. I guess we'll see what I do next spring -- but I'm pretty sure I'm going to force myself to finish the financial accounting requirement and I think that one class will be enough for me!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Help please...

One of the things that I was looking forward to this Christmas was buying presents for our baby. Earlier this week I was thinking to myself, well, maybe I could just buy some sort of present anyway -- like get a present for the next baby. But, that just didn't seem right. I thought maybe we could get a present that would give us something to remember our baby, but we already did that. So that didn't seem right either.

I started thinking about how I wish I could deliver a present to heaven and give it to our baby. But what could you give a baby who doesn't live in this world?

Then all of a sudden, I had an idea.

What if we took the money we were going to spend on physical presents for our baby and instead bought a virtual present -- per se? What if we gave a present in honor of our baby to an organization that needs our support?

Dave and I talked about it and that's what we're going to do this year. I told Dave, "We're parents without a child, so maybe we can help a child without parents."

There are lots of children in this world who don't have enough and we want to share with them. We haven't choosen the organization yet, so we might choose someplace that doesn't exclusively help orphans. We just want to help kids that need support.

I think this idea brings a smile to our baby's face. It brings a smile to mine as we've found a way to make good out of our bad situation.

Here's the criteria we decided upon:
  • A large percentage of the money we give must go to the children, not administrative costs
  • The organization must help children in need (can be a local, national or international organization)
Now here's where we need your help. We need ideas! I have a couple of ideas already, but we haven't made any decisions yet. We want to research and discuss the options to make sure our money is going to make a difference.

What organizations do you know that help kids in need?



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gettting into the Christmas Spirit

Our stocking are hung by the chimney on the curtain rods with care with hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be here.
Our Christmas tree is up and decorated. We've got a great start on our Christmas shopping. The Christmas cards have been put in the mail. Our wreath has been hung. We've been burning the holiday-scented candles. We've attended a Christmas party. Today I'm making a pumpkin pie. 

Not sure if that last one really counts as getting into the Christmas spirit, but we have a pumpkin from our CSA that needs to be transformed into a pie. 
This Christmas won't be going as I thought it would go. But we'll make the best of what we have. We share our love and time with family and friends. We'll miss those who can't be with us this year. We'll celebrate the birth of baby Jesus and we'll pray that next Christmas will bring us a new joy to our lives.

Doesn't Otis look really annoyed at me for trying to get his picture by the tree?

My Christmas pups. Some of the best of what we have.

I hope everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not your average herding dog

Winter has arrived. In full force. The school district I live in was closed yesterday because of the snow and blizzard warnings. Snow and cold weather is nothing new to Otis. With his big black fur, he prefers winter weather to the summer, when he gets so hots he hides in the shade under the trees.

Or so I thought.

I took the dogs out this morning and Otis started tip-toeing around in the snow. One of his back paws wass cold, so he lifted it up into the air and out of the snow. He balanced on his three paws like for a couple of seconds. Then switched legs because his other paw was cold. Next thing, he's sitting with his butt on the ground to give both his back paws a break from the snow and he starts wimpering. Yes, he's crying. He jumped on me like he wanted to pick me up. Sorry, Otis I'm not going to carry all 35 pounds of you back to the house.

I thought about taking a photo of him. But a) I didn't have my camera and b) when it's -1 farenheight (farenheight....not celcius) my mittens do not come off my hands outdoors.

Apparently, Otis forgot he is a herding dog. A dog that was bred to work outside. All day. Every day. In his old age of 3, he's turned into a big wimp! Silly dog!


Photo credit: Katie Mathews Photography

Monday, December 7, 2009

What is this thing? Take 2


That, my friends, is a celariac. And it was one of the vegetables found in or CSA box this week. It's also known as celery root. Apparently, its flavor is a cross between celery and a parsnip.

Unlike the romanesco broccoli, I have tried celariac once before, but I've yet to make something with it. My sister, Becky, made me celariac and potato soup once and it was so I might get that recipe from her or I might try this celeriac apple potato soup recipe. I also got potatoes and onions in my CSA and I still have a few apples from the orchard.

If you know of any good recipes that use celariac, send them my way! Thanks!

Update: I made the celeriac apple potato soup last night and it was awesome! Dave had three big bowls and he gave it 5 out of 5 jalapenos -- and he usually doesn't like soup for dinner.

And now that we've tasted it raw, I'll tell you that celeriac has the flavor of celery, but a consistency close to a carrot. It'd probably be yummy on a vegetable platter with dip.


Sunday, December 6, 2009


Whenever I'm at church, I think about Chubs more than I do the rest of the time. Not a lot more, because honestly I think about our baby a lot. Maybe I just feel closer to him there. Maybe church is one of those places where I really center myself and feel safe enough to let guard down and let my emotions run free. It just seems that whatever the sermon's topic, whatever Bible versus' we read, whatever songs we read, they just relate to our baby in my mind.

So when I left church today, I felt sad. It's weird -- my whole life church was never a place where I left feeling sad. I know it's okay for me to feel sad about this. But it's not an emotion I like to let show. It's an emotion that I fight against...because I don't want to feel sad. I have so much to be thankful for in my life and I'm hopeful that we'll have another baby. But right now, when I go to that place where I let my emotions run free, I'm still sad about our loss.

So as I was driving home from church today, still thinking about Chubs and I heard a song I've never heard before. The words, "I’ll never get to hold you, I’ll never hear your sweet voice sing," caught my attention and I turned up the radio, curious what this song was about. I listened to each word as tears rolled down my cheeks.

“One More Day (For Faith)”

I’ll never get to hold you
I’ll never hear your sweet voice sing
I’ll never get to say ‘I told you so’
I’ll never read to you, or get to teach you anything

But you’ll always be my hope
You’ll always be my first light
You’re always gonna be daddy’s little girl
You’ll always be the strength I need to make it in this world
I only wish for one more day

I’m gonna miss your first day of school
I’ll never see you turn that page
I’ll never see you in your graduation gown
And I’m never gonna see you coming of age

But you’ll always be my hope
You’ll always be my first light
You’re always gonna be mommy’s little girl
You’ll always be the strength I need to make it in this world
I only wish for one more day

Sweet angel of mercy
Coming down to comfort me
Faith, sit right here beside me
I never want you to go away

I’m always gonna wonder how you’d look
Always gonna wish I took your place up there

You’ll always be our hope
You’ll always be our first light
You’re always gonna be our little girl
You’ll always be the strength we need to make it in this world
We only wish for one more day

We only wish for one more day

(c) 2009 Wrongway/Wrongtimer Music (BMI) and Saylesound Music (ASCAP)

Here's the actual song being sung, if you're interested in hearing it...

Even though it hurts, I'm going to savor this feeling of sadness right now. I've got a candle lit. I'm going to say a prayer and read from my reflection book. I'm feeling close to Chubs right now and I don't want to let that feeling go.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What is this thing?

In our last CSA box, we found this....

(Source: Wikipeia)

Our first question: What is this thing?
We had no idea what it was. It kinda looked like a cauliflower. It kinda looked like broccoli.

My second question: If I have no idea what it is, how do we cook it?

My first task on Mission Identify the Vegetable was to look up the newsletter from the CSA. Thankfully, the newsletter identified the vegetable for us. It's called romanesco broccoli. But it's sometimes called Roman caulifower or broccoflower or coral broccoli. It's a form of cauliflower.

But the mission wasn't quite accomplished. I still had to figure out how I was going to cook this new-to-us vegetable.

So I thought about it a little bit....thought about how I like to eat cauliflower and broccoli. And what do both of those veggies taste good in?? Stir-fry. So I chopped up the romanesco broccoli along with some other veggies and I made chicken stir-fry for dinner. It was delicious.

You're probably wondering what does it taste like?
Only Dave and I know and we'll never tell!

Just kidding! When it was raw, I thought it tasted a lot like broccoli. But when it was cooked, I thought it tasted more like a cauliflower.

If you ever come across the vegetable at the grocery store or a farmers' market, I recommend that you try it.