Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Trip to Colorado

We were able to take a family vacation to Colorado last month.  It was a wonderful time!

We had sweet visits with several different friends...

...and family.

We learned how to play Euchre.

We went up to the mountains for a few days and stayed at a camp where we were able to enjoy fun activities, time together, and beautiful scenery.  It was lovely!

A tubing hill, where we rode inner tubes down a fake snow surface.  It was great fun!

Zip line!

A few members of the family took an early morning hike up a mountain to watch the sunrise.

Monday, August 4, 2014

August Newsletter

From Laura, 15 … For Independence Day, we four children went to a party at a friend’s house on Lake Livingstone.  On our way there I read the Declaration of Independence aloud.  I laughed aloud when I came to two spots where the writer had made a mistake and had to put the correction up above with a caret (^)! Those mistakes have lasted over two hundred years. 

Once we were at the party, each of us got a chance to ride a jet ski for the first time!  I rode with Anna driving and it was really scary.  She could barely breathe because I was holding on so tightly!  The jet ski could reach 60 miles an hour, but we barely reached 40.  Even then, the bumps were making us fly into the air!  It was excitingly terrifying.

From Becca, 17 … A few weeks ago I had the privilege of taking a class on accents and dialects.  It was an intensive one-week class—from 9:00-6:00 for five days, with practicing in the evenings and a presentation at the end.  We learned five stage dialects: British, Cockney, German, Southern, and Brooklyn.  I had a great time learning the accents and doing the acting.  Now I get all excited whenever I hear an accent.  Also, I’m very interested in acting and reading aloud.

From Seth, 21 … I recently read an excellent article on journaling by David Mathis.  He described how journaling helps clarify our thoughts and experiences and inspire us to action.  Journaling also assists us in remembering what God has done and in articulating praise and thankfulness for his mercies.  In the past, my journaling goals have been too lofty, and my journals have usually fallen to the wayside.  After reading this article, I got a small memo pad and have started writing a sentence or two whenever something comes to mind.  It's manageable, and so far has been very helpful.  Here is one of the best quotes from the article: "The goal is not to leave an impressive catalogue of your stunning accomplishments and brilliant insights for future generations to read and admire.  Die to that before picking up your pen.  The goal is the glory of Christ..."

 From Anna, 24 … I had the opportunity to audit a class at a local seminary this summer.  It was a one-week intensive on the history of Christianity, from the beginning of the Reformation up to the modern time.  I learned so much!  The professor did an excellent job of drawing out discussion and helping us engage with the ideas we were learning about, which made it especially meaningful.  One recurring theme was the mixed nature of any work of man.  Even godly men who were mightily used by God made great errors in belief or practice.  Movements that were largely opposed to biblical Christianity sometimes had valid points or made a positive impact.  Truly, the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.

From John, Megan, James, and Ezra … (by Megan) We seem to have a lot going on with the boys learning new skills in this season of life.  They are growing up so fast!

Ezra has started solid foods and prefers chunks over puréed foods.  Applesauce is the only puréed food I can spoon feed him.  Lately he has been practicing crawling normally, pulling up and walking along furniture, and learning that he can't touch everything in arm's reach.

James is now potty trained!  He has done very well with keeping his pants dry.  He also has learned to open door knobs.

This past weekend we went to the Texas Home School Coalition conference.  It was fun to see what kinds of curriculum are out there.  There is so much to choose from, but we did narrow it down to a couple that we like.  Thankfully we still have a couple years left before we have to decide.  We are looking forward to that season of life when formal schooling starts.

From Ray, Katie, Peter, Samuel,  Andrew, and Grace … (by Katie) We are loving having a new little lady in our family.  Grace is a delightful baby.  She's starting to smile and coo, and loves having people talk to her.

We've had to have some extensive work done on our house this summer.  We had foundation repair that included making holes in the floor and tunneling under the house.  At one point the living room looked a little like a prairie dog town, with workmen peeking out of holes in the ground.

After the foundation repair, we had four days worth of plumbing work, and we're also taking this opportunity to replace the living room tile with wood floors.  John will do it while we're out of town, and Peter, after hearing that we'd have a new floor when we get back, said, "It will be like fairies did it!"

From Judith … Woven into my remaining tasks related to Gerald’s mother’s estate work has been the tasks of designing and purchasing for two major house projects going on here.  Gerald and I have done the designing together and I have done most of the work of shopping and purchasing on my own.

Currently, we have a full bath and a half bath connected to each other by a door between the girls’ room and Seth’s room.  (It’s an odd arrangement that requires that Seth give the girls clear notice when he needs to shower and then lock their door so no mistake is made.)  We’re converting the space that includes the in-between door to a shower stall, which will result in two completely separate full bathrooms.  Having those large bedrooms, each with its own full bathroom, will be very nice for visiting families.  John’s company will do the work, but we’re providing nearly all of the materials.

The foundation is now in for the family room we’re adding.  We’re awaiting the framing stage.  The windows and doors were delivered this morning and put in the garage.

From Gerald … In June we celebrated my 60th birthday.  I don’t actually turn 60 until August, but for a number of years (I don’t remember how many) we have celebrated my birthday in June because I got tired of sharing a birthday with John.  (Editor’s note: Becca just checked our old calendars, and we have been doing this since 1996).  I used to think 60 was really old, but now it does not seem old at all.  “Old” people have a certain appearance and manner (e.g. wrinkled face and stooped, shuffling walk) which I do not notice in myself.  I wonder if one just wakes up one day and realizes he is old, or if he never really understands that other people have considered him to be old for many years.  At any rate, I recently had two dental implants installed to replace missing teeth.  I am hoping to live long enough to get value from being able to chew on both sides of my mouth again.

We have a friend who is a piano and voice instructor.  We recently asked him to come to our house for a group voice lesson for all six of us.  It was lots of fun and after only one evening we have seen much improvement.  We never expect to be performance-quality singers, but we do enjoy singing together and his instruction has added to our enjoyment because we sound better than we did before.  We sing together each morning and evening as part of family worship, so we have been able to practice what we have learned.

With love from the Pedersen clan

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fascinating Family Discovery

In sorting old family pictures, my parents discovered a previously unknown relationship between two items that Seth inherited from Grandma and Grandpa.

This axe head....

...belonged to this man, our great-great-great-great-grandfather.

His name was Rasmus Brogaard and he used the axe to build his first house in America.  Also he was a gold miner in the 1849 California gold rush.

We found the axe head at Grandma and Grandpa's house, but we had no idea where it came from.  It was painted a gaudy gold.  Seth took a liking to it and we brought it home for him.  He also received the framed picture (which is not a photograph, but likely an ambrotype or daguerreotype).  Then last week we found a photo of the axe and the picture together with a note on the back explaining it.  So, that gold axe that we thought was just a hunk of junk has actually been in the family for six generations!

Seth boiled it in soapy water and scrubbed it with a wire brush to get the paint off.

It's incredibly heavy!  Can you imagine swinging it all day chopping down trees?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Newsletter

From Laura, 15 … For a while my piano teacher, Anna, was “warning” me that there wasn’t much more she could teach me.  I did wish to go farther, though.  We finally decided to start lessons with a new teacher from our church several weeks ago.  He is probably the best pianist we know.  I hope to take my ability to the level of a professional wedding pianist, and he has more than enough expertise to bring me to that.  I am excited to see where this will lead me!

From Becca, 17 … These are some interesting things that I did in April and May:  On our campout I took the opportunity to try to find some stars that I had been reading about in a star book we got.  A few days later some of us woke up in the middle of the night to watch the lunar eclipse.  I had my wisdom teeth taken out and I looked like there were balloons in my mouth.  I ate lots of smoothies (vegetable banana mish-mash).  Anna, Laura, and I got to go to a free performance of the Houston Symphony and eat gelato with the principal trombonist.  But the best thing that happened this spring was when our little niece was born.  I had fun helping them out and being one of the nannies while Katie was recovering.

From Seth, 21 … A couple weeks ago my bus was going through downtown, and an older gentleman boarded.  Because the bus was getting full, he walked toward the rear and sat in the aisle seat next to me.  I thought he looked familiar, so I asked him, "Do you sing Sacred Harp?"  He said he did (I had seen him at the annual Sacred Harp singings in the Heights), so we spent the bus trip talking about singing, hymns, and music.  He even sang me a song a friend of his wrote.  The most interesting part to me was when he said he had trouble singing some of those more modern songs.  At first, I thought he would say the tempo or syncopation were hard to follow, but then he gave the example of the song, "I Will Glory in my Redeemer," and said, with mist in his eyes, that some of the lyrics were so profound and convicting--"Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails / And hung him on that judgment tree"--that they could hardly be sung.

From Anna, 24 … I recently received my first jury summons.  I was not selected, but I did get put on a panel of 65 for voir dire.  The trial was a murder case with an automatic life sentence if the defendant was found guilty, so there was a strong sense of weightiness throughout the process.  The moment that surprised me the most was when the defense attorney asked if any of us had lost a close friend or family member to murder and six or seven people raised their hands.  I would not have expected ten percent of a randomly selected pool of people to have had a murder in their immediate circle.

I had mixed feelings about not being chosen.  It would have been inconvenient to serve, but after hearing about the case, I was curious about what sort of evidence would be presented and what the verdict would be.  It was certainly interesting to get a glimpse into what a court case actually looks like.  I know I don’t think much about the juries when I hear about trials, so I’m glad for the reminder of the ordinary people who play such an important part in our justice system.

From John, Megan, James, and Ezra … (by Megan) John has finished the large kitchen remodel that he was working on during the last time the newsletter went out.  It turned out great and the customer is very happy with the product!  People continue to contact him for work and want him to do their projects.  The hardest thing to keep up with is quotes, but having hired help is a blessing so that, when needed, John can work on quotes or other pressing office-related things while Paul (John's helper) is working on the current project.

James is very busy and is constantly learning.  He is doing very well with his colors (red, green, yellow, blue, white, brown, pink), and is especially good at knowing the number two!  It really is the only number he counts: "two, two, two!" for “one, two, three” :-).  We are working on the rest of the numbers. 

Ezra is now 6 1/2 months old and is MOBILE!!  He pulls himself across the floor in the form of a modified combat crawl.  He is getting fast and really good at it!  John says he looks like a seal, the way his body moves!

I stay on my toes with the housework and with two mobile boys.  It is crazy-busy and hard, but sanctifying, which is a good thing!  My deepest desire is to be more like Christ.

One thing we were able to get done on our house lately is removing the fireplace!  John just recently got the drywall hung and taped where the fireplace used to be.

From Ray, Katie, Peter, Samuel,  Andrew, and Grace … (by Katie) Grace is here!  We are praising the Lord for her safe arrival.  She weighed 8 lb. 14 oz.  We are all thrilled to have her out where we can see her and hold her.  She’s a very calm, peaceful baby so far, and plump and cuddly.  The boys are all excited to have her, and eager to talk to her, hold her, give her kisses, and bring her blanket to her.  We do have to watch carefully to make sure their exuberant affection doesn’t hurt her!  I was very thankful to have my family’s abundant help for the first week, which allowed me to rest and heal, and Ray to keep his business afloat.  We’re all starting to ease back into our normal routine, but with a delightful little bundle along now!

From Judith … bits and pieces from my world these past two months: Check out a new local grocery store and get lots of great deals.  Plan and prepare for the spring campout.  Visit John’s family’s church one Sunday.  (We had visited the Wades’ church in February.)  Take Becca to get her wisdom teeth removed (five children down, one to go).  Attend the symphony with Gerald using free tickets.  Celebrate our Lord’s resurrection with our extended family.  Take the Impala in for body work after someone backed into it while it was parked.  Go to jury duty but get passed over just like Anna did.  (I share her sentiments about the experience.  My case was cocaine possession.)  Get items that passed through our church sharing table ready for The Salvation Army to pick up.  Make arrangements for Laura’s piano lessons with a new teacher.  Prepare a large vegetable tray and help with set up for a friend’s wedding, then attend the wedding.  Celebrate our grandson’s birthday with his family.  Attend with the family a 9-hour pistol safety course.  Visit the dentist and learn a tooth has cracks caused by a very old filling and needs work soon.  Babysit 6-month-old Ezra for the first time, along with James, while John and Megan celebrate three years of marriage.  It has been, as usual, quite a potpourri!

From Gerald … Things have really been wet recently in Houston.  At our house, we received 12.4 inches of rain in the month of May.  On May 26, Grace’s birthday, we had 4.83 inches.  We were really grateful for the maintenance work that the county does on our road ditches.  It makes a huge difference in getting storm water moved away.  Our ditches were full and water was flowing over the bridge that the county built for Becca, but the water did not come up into our yard.  The property of our neighbors across the street is a bit lower than ours and they actually have a berm around the house.  They depend on sump pumps to keep the water outside the berm.  Unfortunately one of the pumps failed to operate, and they had water in their house again. 

This is not the first time we have had a grandchild born during a storm.  But storm or no storm, we are thrilled about Grace’s arrival; she is a precious doll – “a fine baby.” 

With love from the Pedersen clan