Thursday, December 29, 2005

All those gift cards really came in handy

David finally said goodbye to his long-suffering 1987 Nova and bought a new 2006 Ford Focus ZX4 SE. (The color is called Light Tundra - kind of a forest green.)

A down payment, higher insurance rates, and monthly payments for years to come were the only drawbacks to having a dependable car with air conditioning, good pick-up, air bags, solid construction and a radio/CD player.

I understand the Nova will be sold at auction (I got $500 for the trade-in) and will probably end up with a second life on the streets of Mazatlan, Mexico. I kind of hope so.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see the source of both my excitement and my buyer's remorse.

Happy Belated Anniversary (on the 26th)

Happy 54th Anniversary, Dad and Mom!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Internet problems and a busy day yesterday

We are having problems with our Internet and it was off line most of the day yesterday. It's up this morning, but I can't be sure if it will stay up. Even so, we were very busy yesterday.

At 9 AM, Penny (Tom's daughter who we haven't seen for a couple of years) called to say that her and Caitlyn were coming up to see Grandma. She had forgotten that she was in Rochester at Sunrise. We invited her to come to our house. It is about a three hour drive from Ft Dodge where they live.

Then, about noon, Nancy called her cell phone and found out that Brian and Michael (one of her two sons) had decided to come along. We invited them for lunch. Nancy quick set a table and ran to the grocery for a few things. They got here about 1:15. A minute or two before they arrived I checked and our Internet was back up. So I checked the email and beheld the bonanza of photos from Amy! I quickly downloaded the photos and email and was printing them as they were coming in the door. We then spent an hour or so catching up and eating.

At three, we took them over to see Grandma. Grandma was especially clear and remembered (after a little help) who Penny was. She remembered bringing Penny home from the hospital to their house and that she helped name her (she even said she was sorry about that). It was a very good visit. I took some video and pictures but don't know when I'll get them up on the blog.

At about 4:30, we went up to Tyler and Jenny's near Zumbrota and picked up a snow blower from Kevin. They live in a very nice remodeled farm house. Ben was home alone, but we called him several times and he had leftover pizza (but no Internet). We got back at 6:30 or so and spent the rest of the night inviting people to our get together on Thursday night

Thursday, December 22, 2005

2005 Christmas letter

Dear Family and Friends,

2005 - What a busy and fun year for our family.

In May, Amy graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton Illinois. After a relaxing and yet strangely busy summer and fall she left for Namibia with the Peace Corps in November. We didn’t really know anything about this country until the Peace Corps decided to send our daughter there. Suddenly it became a very interesting location and one about which we couldn’t seem to find enough information. She is busy getting acclimated, learning the language and practice teaching. She will teach Seventh grade English and Physical Science in a very remote village for the next two years. All of the planning, packing and yes, worrying about getting her off are over and now we just pray for her and wait for emails, and on Christmas a phone call YAY! How this experience is stretching our faith. We have no control over weather, governments, safety, health and a host of other issues. Plus, we miss her! But she is doing well, remains healthy and convinced she is right where God wants her to be. This gives us peace.

The rest of us also had eventful lives as we saw God’s hand of blessing in our lives. Paul’s highlights this year include a trip to the Dominican Republic in July. Our church goes on a short-term mission every other year. This is his fourth trip, each time he sees God working both in the lives of the people they come to serve and in his own life. He truly cherishes these trips. He continues to love watching birds and added 20 to his “Life List” this year. Paul also developed a couple of blogs where you can learn more about our family and more about Amy’s adventures in Namibia by clicking:

Ben is still working at PossAbilities. He loves his friends and the staff there and his Dad still works there too. One of the highlights of every year for Ben is his annual trip to Camp Winnebago. He never tires of going there, partly because it is a very comfortable and predictable week for him. He knows they will camp out one night, roast marshmallows, make crafts and get awards at the end of the week. I am always amazed at how loving and supportive the staff are for him.

This summer we went to Door County with Amy for a quick break while Ben was at camp. It was great to have a few days to focus on her and to enjoy her. She always makes us laugh. Ben also loved the trip to a lake cabin that the entire Pedersen extended family took in October. We just hung out together, shopped, watched old movies, laughed and prayed together. It was a great sendoff for Amy, culminating with each family member giving her a special bible verse and a time of prayer together. How blessed we are for family that shares our faith and supports us in prayer.

Nancy celebrated her 20th year of teaching Early Childhood Family Education for the Stewartville School district (and I have a nifty clock to prove it). I can truly say those years have flown by and I am blessed to have a job that is so rewarding and fun. I still enjoy being a part of our church choir, such a blessing to sing with others and worship in this way. I have also enjoyed my summer jobs teaching Migrant Head Start and preschool Special Education. Most of my fun revolves around little people.

I also really enjoyed a quick trip to Garfield in August for the Centennial. We saw many old friends and relatives. We are still very involved in my dear Mother’s care. She is 83 years old and in an Alzheimer’s facility. It is a beautiful place, very home-like and she is very comfortable and happy there. However, the disease has taken its toll and she is very fragile. She was just placed on hospice care where the staff have been so helpful to us and to her. The amazing thing is that she doesn’t even know she is sick. She still knows us and can carry on quite a conversation. We pray that the Lord will just take her to heaven without her having to experience pain or suffering, but meanwhile, we enjoy visiting with her and enjoying her sweet spirit.

As you can see we are busy and happy. We love hearing from all of you. Please let us know what’s up and let us know if you are in the area. We’d love to see you.

Blessings this year,

Paul, Nancy, Ben and Amy

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Plummer House at night

We had our staff Christmas party here yesterday and I took this picture after.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Fun weekend

Last Saturday morning we drove to Paul and Nancy's in Stewartville. We hadn't seen their Christmas tree and all their cozy, warm decorations for a couple of years. We spent the day with Nancy an Ben, because Paul was off on the Christmas Bird Count around Mayowood in Rochester. After lunch we went to Market Platz west of Rochester--a farmyard turned into a nursery in summer with a red brick house turned into a gift store. Since they would be closing on Monday for the winter, it seemed like a great time to go and find some Christmas bargains.

In the evening we drove to Pine Island for the beautiful 6:00 Christmas wedding of Molly and Ted. The dresses and flowers were red; the church was full of family and friends. Afterward, we all found our way through the dark and snowy roads to the reception in Kasson. It was unusual to have so many guests from my mother's hometown of Beresford, South Dakota, but that happens to be where Ted is from and where the newly-weds will be living.

Leaving the reception we again found our way back to Stewartville for the night. We are not used to driving on unfamiliar roads on a dark winter night. Sunday morning we went to church with Paul and Nancy. It was an especially good day to be there. A full orchestra filled the front of the church, the choir sang and we heard great preaching. After eating out and stopping to see Nancy's mom at the nursing home, we were ready to come home.

Rochester CBC

I spent Saturday out in the cold (although I was in the car a lot) doing our area's Christmas Bird Count. It was an average year for numbers and, since most of the water was frozen, we only got a few waterfowl. Our total so far is at 51 species. Bloomington's is at 66. St Paul tied their record at 59.

Our Rochester preliminary results:

Participants found 51 species yesterday, and three other species were seen in the previous three days.
Here are the preliminary totals, which do not include feeder reports:
(Bold ones are ones that my team saw)

Canada Goose -- we will use the DNR estimate
Wood Duck -- 1
Mallard -- 366
Common Goldeneye -- 6
Gray Partidge -- count week
Ring-necked Pheasant -- 52
Wild Turkey -- 223
Pied-billed Grebe -- 1
Bald Eagle (adult) -- 18
Bald Eagle (immature) -- 2
Sharp-shinned Hawk -- 3
Cooper's Hawk -- 4
Red-tailed Hawk -- 47
Rough-leggged Hawk -- 7
American Kestrel -- 1
Peregrine Falcon -- count week
Rock Pigeon -- 562
Mourning Dove -- 112
Eastern Screech Owl -- 2
Great Horned Owl -- 5
Barred Owl -- 2
Belted Kingfisher -- 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker -- 40
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker -- 1
Downy Woodpecker -- 134
Hairy Woodpecker -- 26
Northern Flicker -- 6
Pileated Woodpecker -- 9
Northern Shrike -- 5
Blue Jay -- 234
American Crow -- 951
Horned Lark -- 44
Black-capped Chickadee -- 475
Red-breasted Nuthatch -- 7
White-breasted Nuthatch -- 1125
Brown Creeper -- 1
Eastern Bluebird -- 4
American Robin -- 362
Varied Thrush -- 1
European Starling -- 1007
Cedar Waxwing -- 244
American Tree Sparrow -- 134
Fox Sparrow -- count week
Song Sparrow -- 2
White-throated Sparrow -- 2
Dark-eyed Junco -- 472
Lapland Longspur -- 59
Snow Bunting -- 30
Northern Cardinal -- 236
Purple Finch -- 13
House Finch -- 409
Common Redpoll -- 1
American Goldfinch -- 145
Pine Siskin -- 2
House Sparrow -- 1111

Total count of birds was 7707, not including Canada Geese. Two species on the tally yesterday were dropped. The Gray Partidge was dropped because it was not a live bird. But because live birds were seen during the count week period, we can include this as a "count week" bird. Jerry withdrew the report of the Cackling Goose after consulting field guides and web-based resources at home. Some birds we normally find that were missed yesterday were: Black Duck, Common Merganser, Tufted Titmouse. Birds seen in the count circle through Tuesday December 20 may still be counted as "count week" birds, so let me know if you spot anything new.

Star Wars Nativity

I don't know about you, but I am having a hard time hearing the Christmas story without hearing Sara's rat or picturing the characters in Sara's video project for school. I wonder if you got a good grade on the project? Can we get a copy to send Amy or David?

Sunday, November 27, 2005