Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm Back!

I spent the holiday at a folk dance camp and had an absolutely fantastic time. John and I went together to the camp, which was between Waco and Austin. It was held Thursday through Sunday, and over the course of the entire trip we slept about twelve hours! It was sort of a test to see if it's possible to get tired of dancing. The answer is NO!!!

We had dance classes during the day for Israeli dances and Scandinavian couple dances. I really liked both types of dances and was glad to be able to learn them. I'd seen some Scandinavian dances, but had never been able to learn them. They're so much fun, and if you get with a good partner, you feel like you're flying.

There was a dance party each evening that went into the wee hours of the morning. We did lots of different kinds of dances, and had live music for some of it. My feet were really sore after so much dancing, but it was definitely worth it. I had a great time.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Blog Lives up to its Name

My family went to Taste of Texas last night. I'd been inside the restaurant before, but I'd never eaten there. It was excellent, but I think I enjoyed the building and the atmosphere as much as the food! We had a gift certificate that my father got as a thank-you gift for a speaking engagement. It was enough for our whole family to eat there, plus my grandparents. (10 people!) The restaurant was already completely decked out for Christmas with trees, lights, red bows, huge nutcrackers, and a santa hat on the stuffed deer.

That's something that's been bothering me a little bit. Why is there so much Christmas stuff everywhere already? I went out to lunch and heard Christmas music, I turned on the radio and heard Christmas music, I went to the mail store and they had their Christmas decorations up, and I've even seen homes with their icicle lights up already! I love Christmas and everything, but early November is too soon, I say. I've decided that Houston has only two seasons: Summer and Christmas.

In other news, the new salesman at my office (who's really nice and has a great sense of humor, by the way) seems to think it's part of his job description to tease us two girls all the time. On Friday, he started calling us "Thing One and Thing Two" because of all the goofy stuff we do. I can't honestly say this is undeserved. I'm trying to decide if we should call him the Cat in the Hat, but I think not because that would mean he could keep us in a big red wooden box.

I'm not sure if I'm Thing One or Thing Two, but I think I'm Thing Two (Hey! A tongue twister!) because I spent the day losing pens and finding them in strange places after the other girl accidentally burned her hair in my candle. Whatever the case may be, our new motto is: "We know how to have lots of good fun that is funny!"

In yet other news, we're having Thanksgiving dinner today because my Grandparents are here and John and I will be out of town next Thursday through Sunday. So, I have pumpkin pie in the oven that I probably ought to be checking on. I don't want to burn it up like I did the walnuts the other day. Have you ever noticed that when toasting walnuts, there's only a thirty second difference between perfect and inedible?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Foot-Stamping at Church

John, Anna, and I were recently asked to play special music in the church service. One thing led to another, and we soon found ourselves doing special music twice in the service and leading part of the congregational singing! I found myself wondering how I get myself into these things.

We were a little concerned about how our music was going to be received because we generally play rip-roaring bluegrass but our church is the pipe organ variety! Never in the entire history of the church, had there been music like there was last Sunday. The music leaders certainly liked it, though. We had played for them ahead of time, and that’s how we ended up doing so many songs for the service.

John played his banjo, I played the guitar, and Anna played the fiddle. We played gospel songs and tried to keep things toned down so as to hopefully not get kicked out of the church. It was so different from the music we usually have at our church that I figured people would either love it or hate it. It was interesting the way the church treated us like a visiting musical group or something. They even had a paragraph in the bulletin that said something about “welcoming the Pedersen family as they share their unique worship style with us”! I think that actually helped by making it seem like sort of one-time thing so people wouldn’t freak out and think this was the new yee-haw church!

Well, it turned out that the congregation absolutely loved it. Lots of people complimented us and said things like:

-When are you playing again?
-I didn’t know you could sing or play instruments!
-You brought back memories of my childhood.
-It was a breath of fresh air.
-Y’all were awesome!!
-Do you have any albums?

So now we have a whole other set of problems. We’re pretty much famous now. It felt very much like we’d given a concert, because we got so much attention. I’m glad people enjoyed the music, but that’s really not what a worship service is supposed to be about. We’re supposed to be focusing on the Lord, and I found it a little unsettling to have people seeming to be focusing on us so much. I almost felt like I owed God an apology. On the other hand, the other side of this argument that I’m having with myself is that we had the opportunity to use our God-given talents for God’s glory and to play and sing songs about him.

Also, from a more selfish perspective, we really enjoyed the opportunity to prepare the songs and play and sing together. We hadn’t really done a bluegrass-style performance together before, (for more than family and close friends) and it was great fun.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Squash Face

This is funny for two reasons. First, it reminds me of one time when my sister, Laura (age 6) asked my mother if she could get all her hair cut off. (My mother said no.)

The other reason this is funny is because my family has a tradition of drawing faces on appropriately-shaped produce. Butternut squash works particularly well. It gets especially funny when someone draws a face on the week's squash and signs his or her name!
I think the motivation for this probably came from Veggietales. Speaking of which, what's your favorite Veggietales song? Mine is "His Cheeseburger." These things are important, you know.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

What's in an MRE?

I have a new co-worker who has been in the Army National Guard for ten years. Last week, he brought me an MRE since I'd never seen one. In case you've never seen one either, prepare yourself for an educational experience. The brown plastic package clearly labeled "MEAL" contained:
  • A package of ham and shrimp jambalaya in a packet in a cardboard box.
  • A high-tech heating bag that gets blistering hot as soon as you add a little water. Amazing!
  • One slice of bread
  • One piece of spiced pound cake
  • A squeeze tube of jalapeno cheese spread
  • A packet of "lemon-lime drink mix" (tasted like gatorade to me)
  • A single-serving packet of Taster's Choice instant coffee
  • Powdered creamer
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Two pieces of white chewing gum
  • A cute little glass bottle of Tabasco sauce
  • A book of matches
  • A moist towlette
  • Several napkins
  • A spoon, and a good sturdy one at that
  • A package of M&Ms (YES!)

I can say from personal experience that the meal wasn't half bad. Besides, it's the closest I ever came to feeling like a soldier. :-)
Oh, and here's the Wikipedia article about MREs. It even has a list of the menus all the way back to 1981!

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Camping: Bringing Families Together by Giving Them a Common Enemy

My family went on a camping trip last weekend, and had GREAT weather. We were at a really pretty state park with a bunch of friends. It was nice to get away from the city for a while and spend some time outdoors.

Before we went, I charged up my camera batteries and packed my camera. I then left it in my backpack all weekend and didn’t take a single picture! So, please use your imagination as you read my list of the fun things we did:

-We played volleyball using a net made out of rope. Two long lines of rope were tied between two trees, then the rope was zigzagged between the two lines. Every time the ball hit it, the rope wound up looking like a pile of spaghetti. Hey, it worked!
-We went on several hikes, including an orienteering hike which means you follow a leader with a compass and a map of curvy lines as you stumble through the bushes trying to avoid being attacked by God’s creation while searching for a white numbered stake next to an elusive rock face.
-We played Frisbee for, I think, hours and hours. We even played at night since someone had brought light-up Frisbees. That was incredible, or at least it was until the boys caused the game to somehow turn into tackle Frisbee!
-We played Spoons with about twenty people at one long picnic table, but divided into three groups. I know you thought we had people diving down the length of the table, but please don’t let your imagination run away with you.
-We played music together for quite a long time on both Friday and Saturday. I think we played pretty much every song we knew. We figured we were running out of songs when we played “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Ten Little Indians.” Have you ever heard the bluegrass version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”?

We also had some encounters with wildlife:
-We found a giant millipede, and one of my brothers used it to make Anna scream so loud the stone picnic shelter almost shook. Then my other brother pulled out his knife and cut off the back half inch of the thing, but not quite all the way. It just kept right on walking, pulling its new caboose behind it. Sick.
-We had a crow who felt that it was his personal duty to stand right above our tent and caw at 6:00 in the morning, both mornings! We almost had fresh poultry for breakfast, I think.
-I had the memorable experience of a Daddy Longlegs in my pants. I am not sure the details of this episode are suitable for publishing.

Speaking of my personal trauma, I also scratched my arm on a tree, cut my hand on a Frisbee, walked into the lantern (nearly knocking myself out), strained a muscle playing the guitar too long, and got covered in pine needles by my dear brother who said he was making a pyre! Maybe I should stay at the office where it’s safe.

All in all, it was a great camping trip. The tent was dry, the sun was shining, the friends were fun, the breeze was cool, the oatmeal was hot, the strangers were quiet, and we all made it back safe and sound, dirty but happy.

Thursday, November 3, 2005