Friday, November 30, 2012

Photo Friday: The Week

Ella told me only brothers & sisters could be in the tent. I couldn't resist getting a quick photo anyway.

 Ella has wanted to do a lot for Sammy lately. Here she was trying to snap his shirt but he kept licking her hand. It was pretty cute.

Big sister asked to have Little Brother on her lap and wanted to make sure he could see the snow.

I've always wanted an audience while getting ready in the morning! Ok, maybe not. I need to plan better.

Daddy & his boy after a long day at work.

Sleepy little man.

This was not from the last week. While I was sick, Pete did an incredible job with taking over all of my usual tasks. He even did Ella's hair. What a man. Seriously. What a man.

Thursday we played at Auntie Becky's. The girls love their popsicles!

Sammy was mesmerized by Auntie's tree.

I had two divine outings this week...alone. What better place is there than Target? And during the holiday season!

Outing two was to get my hair done on Thursday. Goodness, it was needed. Many people today have told me they don't remember seeing me with my hair down. New goal: to leave it down more often. Except that means I actually have to take time to do it. Hmm. I'll see what I can do. 


We're continuing to make amazing progress on simplifying the house. Another big load will be going to Goodwill tomorrow. Joy! Just one and a half rooms left in the basement and we'll be finished. Then we can decorate for Christmas. I might have to share some photos of the crazy organized rooms soon. Yes, I'm that excited about it. 

I will have one more change to post, but now that the weekend is upon us, I think I'll wait until Monday. We're heading down to St Olaf for Christmas Fest tomorrow. Pete sang in the prestigious St Olaf Choir once upon a time, and it just isn't the start of the Christmas season without taking in the annual concert. We always follow the concert at our dear friend Anton's house for dessert and a sleep over. Sammy will be joining us while Ella stays in Duluth with friends. After tomorrow night's concert, Christmas will be in full swing! Yay! 


Happy weekend, friends!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Change is in the Air

It's here! The new look! I'm so excited to have a brand new appearance for our Little Olsen blog. I had been hoping to be able to make the changes before heading to Kenya in January, but I had no idea when that could possibly happen. And then I got sick and the time just opened up. Amazing how that works! I'm still adding a few things, particularly writing on each of the pages you see above (the olsens, kenya, links) but that will come with time.  I'm especially happy with how much space the new layout allows for writing and posting larger photos since I am now the happy owner of a Canon Rebel T3i DSLR camera. Pete and I had been looking at nice cameras for years and finally decided that Kenya would the ideal time to have one. Pete surprised me with it for my birthday, which we also say qualifies for my Christmas and graduation present. We're covering all the bases. I've been experimenting with it and am nearly ready to start posting the photos. Yay!

Along with the new look of the blog have come other changes. While I was in the hospital, Pete and I had time to sit and talk through some things weighing heavy on our hearts. At least once a year, the two of us spend a night very intentionally talking through our goals and how our goals line up with our values. We have everything written down so we can go back and see what we've accomplished and remind ourselves of the values we hold as the most important, both individually and as a family. We always start with long-term goals (25+ years), which don't often change, but it gives us perspective as to where we want this journey to end up. Then we do medium-term goals (5 and 10 years) down to short-term (2 years, 1 year, 6 months, and 3 months). By working backward like that, we can make sure that what we're doing right now will help us get to the big stuff. I completely credit Pete with this. I never wrote down my goals before I met him, but he had been doing it for years. It has enabled us to accomplish far more than we would without doing it. It also gives us an opportunity to really pray about each thing and make sure it lines up with our values and where we think God is leading us. We both love dreaming of the future, but we really enjoy seeing things happen right now.

One thing we realized while thinking through everything was that our lives and our house have become far too cluttered. We really desire simplicity, but you wouldn't know it by walking into our house. Yes, it may be cozy, but I was stressing about how hard it was getting to keep it organized. There was just too much stuff. So my amazing husband had some friends come over to help organize big things while I was stuck in bed and then, once I had the energy, we started sorting through things together. I'm terrible (maybe I should put a capital T on that) at going through things on my own because I end up looking through everything and have the hardest time getting rid of things. Pete isn't like that at all. When we work together we can fly through mountains of boxes and clutter. In one week we've decluttered most of the house and donated many boxes of things we just don't use any more. My heart feels happy again. I can breathe and the anxiety of being surrounded by all that stuff is gone.

So that's the house. We're also doing a lot of praying and chatting about what things will look like over the next year with the idea of simplicity encompassing all of our plans. We've got a lot of work to do in that area. Most people wouldn't look at our lives and say they are simple. We do a lot. We run and run and run and we really enjoy it. But it's becoming clear that's just not what God has for us right now. I'm pretty excited about some of the changes on the horizon, but I'll post that later this week. I've got more sorting I want to do this morning before Ella gets home from school.


Oh! One more change! Last Friday, the first day I was allowed to drive after my surgery, I took Ella on a date to the salon. We were both pretty excited. And look at this darling girl! Afterward we went for chocolate ice cream at Ella's request. Thanks to Amy at E'clips on the Lake for another adorable cut!

Friday, November 23, 2012


This Thanksgiving may have looked a little different for us, but that didn't change the fact that I'm just as thankful as ever. Yesterday we celebrated very quietly at home. It was just the four of us, and I was okay with that. The plan had been that we would host my family and all the kids and Pete's parents and sister Kristin. There would have been quiet a few people here, but we love to host. I had a whole Pinterest board filled with recipes and decorations and kids' craft ideas. We were going to change things up a bit from our traditional spread and try a turkey soup with hearty bread and a pumpkiny dessert. It would have been grand. But then the whole appendicitis thing hit, and all those lovely ideas were put to rest.

Instead, we woke up at our regular hour of 7am, cuddled in bed, and then we played in the living room while Daddy went to do rounds at the hospital. He brought home a delicious breakfast from the hospital caf and we feasted picnic style on the living room floor. Breakfast was followed by a cozy viewing of The Lorax and naps all around while Daddy went in to do a C section. Afterward, he brought home a plate of turkey, dressing, potatoes, and pumpkin pie (again from the caf) and we shared our Thanksgiving meal in front of the fire.

Look at how cute this little guy was for his first Thanksgiving! Our little butter ball.

Yesterday, while Pete was away doing his morning rounds, Ella and I worked together to refashion the broken crayons from her big tin of colors. We picked out all the little pieces, peeled the paper, and put them in this little silicon baking sheet (not used for food, of course). It's a very simple activity, if you ever decide to do it with your own kiddos. Simply put the sheet in the oven at 300* for 15 minutes. (I found my silicon baking pans at Saver's for a dollar each. They come in different shapes.) They'll be very melty and hot, so be very careful as you remove them from the oven. You can either let it cool on the counter or, if you're impatient like I am, you can very carefully set them in the freezer or fridge to speed up the process. When they're cool, pop them out of the tray. That's it! 

When making the crayons, you can either do all one color for each new crayon, as we did yesterday, or you can put pieces of various colors in each. That's how we made our Valentines last year. We made them in heart shapes, taped them to a little paper doily, and Ella gave them to her friends. They would also make perfect stocking stuffers for hardly any cost!

We all had fun creating colorful masterpieces with these new crayons for Thanksgiving.

I mentioned a week or two ago there's an appearance change on the horizon for the blog. I changed the background to celebrate Thanksgiving, but an even bigger change is still coming. I'm hoping it will be up over the weekend, but we'll see what happens. I can't wait to share it with all of you!

I hope you had a very happy Thanksgiving and that you're now ready to deck the halls! Not sure when it will happen in this house, but we'll surely take pictures when it does!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mama's Home!

After one long week in the hospital, this mama is home. Such a relief. I had no idea I would need to stay so long, but my infection was tough to kick. Since my appendix had ruptured more than 24 hours before it was removed, there was a whole lot of yuckiness going on. In fact, and I'm kind of proud of this, my surgeon said that it was the ugliest appendix she had ever seen. Can I get a certificate with that?! Really, how many people can claim that prize?

 Every night in the hospital I spiked a pretty decent fever, which was the main reason I had to stay. We finally did another CT on Tuesday night to make sure nothing was still in there, but all was clear. Once I passed 24 hours without a fever, I was released with a pretty hefty dose of pain meds, antibiotics, and an attractive tube that continues to drain fluid from my belly. (No worries, I keep it hidden.) And now I heal.

having a little nerdy fun. beachbody makes our fitness programs.
 I've been ordered to basically do nothing at all until Thanksgiving. What?! How does a mama do that? This mama does it by having an incredible husband. Before I was even released, Pete had childcare and housekeeping help lined up. We've had a mountain of friends claim dates to drop of dinner and even a few, colorful bouquets of flowers have been delivered. I've been blown away by the kindness so many people are pouring out over us. It has made it possible to actually stay in bed and rest. And do a little Christmas shopping.

It's true. I'm taking advantage of this time in bed to search Etsy for Christmas gifts. This is something I love to do but never plan it early enough. I am so on top of it now! Ooo, I'll also tell you that there's going to be a fun appearance change for the blog. That's something I've wanted to do before heading off to Kenya but didn't know when I would be able to do it. Hello, opportunity!

ooo, mama's home!

Even though I'm confined to my bedroom, I'm making a list of things to do before this time is up. Fun things. I might have a friend pick up some felt so I can make a quiet book for Ella to take to Kenya. I'd also like to read a book and catch up on Sam's baby book. Wait, I'd like to start Sam's baby book. And I plan to watch lots of movies. I'm already doing well on that.

so happy to be back together
We want to send an enormous thank you to Nana & Papa Olsen who spent nearly an entire week with Ella & Sam after my surgery. I had no time to prepare anything ahead of time, so with Pete's help, they figured out everything the little ones needed with very little guidance. I cannot thank you enough, Nana & Papa!

Thank you so much for your prayers and kind thoughts. Please continue to pray that all this healing goodness stays on track. I really appreciate it!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Time to Rest

It's amazing where we are able to find moments of rest, especially when we least expect it. Last Sunday I noticed a pain in my belly that was abnormal for me, but it wasn't awful and the rest of my stomach was upset, so I assumed I had a bug of some kind and pushed through. On Wednesday afternoon, it finally let up and I was able to relax. I was very energetic, actually, and got a lot of class work done and cleaned the house a bit. But when I woke up  in the early morning on Thursday, the pain was back. It was a bit stronger, but Ella had to get to school and I had to take a few things to our Mops meeting in Hermantown. It's not like you can just ignore the kids when mama's not feeling well, right? So off we went.

vintage Samsonite bag as a carry-on for Kenya! (Salvation Army $1.50)

I didn't stay at Mops. I didn't want to share my stomach bug with anyone since I didn't actually know what it was. Instead, Sam and I went to the Salvation Army (not standing close to anyone) where I found some fantastic treasures. It was a great way to distract myself from the pain. Eventually, I got to rest a bit during the kids' naps and I stayed home when our nanny arrived so I could rest in my bed and work on class work at the same time. I had been very hot all day, so I eventually dug out a thermometer. I discovered I had a slight fever, something I knew might not be a good sign with severe right side pain. I paged Pete, got right in at the clinic, and at about 11 Thursday night, I had surgery to guessed ruptured appendix.

Sammy came for a visit
I'm thankful it happened here in Duluth rather than in two months when we're in Kenya. We have great help here and Pete knows most of the doctors and nurses. The ultrasound tech and radiologist couldn't guarantee it was my appendix, so I also had a CT. When the surgeon finally went in, she said it took her a while to find my appendix since there was so much yuckiness around it. Thank you, Jesus, for skilled surgeons and strong antibiotics. I know that this is not a successful surgery in all places throughout the world.

Unfortunately, all this action may play a role in pushing my thesis work back a bit, but really, that's not a big deal. All will be just fine.

It's amazing how good clear liquids can taste.
Today I'm resting. I've asked that only a very few people visit. I love seeing friends, but it takes a lot of energy to have long conversations in the hospital. Instead, I've slept, sipped chicken broth, shopped on Etsy (dangerous), pinned on Pinterest, and watched a marathon of Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. It was not a restful night with hourly checks of my vitals, so maybe this morning will be better. I'll continue to rest today and may be able to go home on Sunday. If not, it will be Monday. I'm going to soak in the quietness and the beautiful city view from my window and get as much sleep as possible. I truly want this to be a time of rest.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers. I'm grateful for each one of them. Really.


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