Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas 2014

It usually takes the impending arrival of guests for me to clean up and appear presentable.  

Tonight we had a few friends over for dessert and wine.  

I still hadn't gotten my Christmas decorations looking semi-organized.  I am not really a huge Christmas decorator ~ other than a tree, of course.  

But this year, I pulled out every decoration I had gotten over the years.  And things looked festive around here this evening!   I thought I would add some pics!    

I had shined the stainless steel appliances...perhaps you can appreciate the elbow grease involved.  ;)

We have to do something special on my husband's family's Swedish chest.  It was brought over from Sweden, and is several hundred years old.   My "something special" is cards from friends.  

We have a real tree this year.   

Christmas music playing on Spotify Premium through the Roku.  State of the art way to play the classics!  

A friend in Sweden sent us this linen, as well as the ram.   My secret sister gave me the cute snowman and the candle.  I had to do something special to show off my treasures from friends.

I am always confused about what to put above my cabinets.  Found a couple things at a thrift store, and used some hand-me-downs (always my favorite things!).  

And finally, my hand-me-down (also, AWESOME!) tree that I acquired this past week.  And put upstairs in front of a large window:

I had the kids mostly decorate it...with candy canes:  my ultimate, cheap, super-great looking ornaments.  

We have so many things to look forward to in the immediate future.  My mother and father-in-law are coming for Christmas from Minnesota...which is a GREAT thing, because I have have awesome in-laws.  

We are having Christmas dinner at our house.  Both sets of parents and many of our immediate and extended family are all going to be here.  I am so excited and SO nervous.  

But also very aware that I am blessed.  

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you have a blessed holiday season!

Mary Ann

Friday, August 22, 2014

"How are YOU today?"

Earlier this summer, we had a group of Swedish students visit our church and perform a free concert.  

To save money on lodging during their tour from New York to Miami, the group asked if members of our church would open our homes to them before they set off for south Florida the next day. 

We happily obliged. At the end of the evening we caravanned home from the venue with seven Swedish young people in tow.  

“One thing I am confused about,” shared one of the young men after he became comfortable with us,  “Is how I should answer the question ‘How are you today?’  What should I say?”  

As Americans, we just don’t realize how “American” this question is.  

It is the safe and acceptable question to ask when other topics, like football or the weather, elude us.    “How are you today?” is the Wonder Bread of American questions.  

Because we HATE silence.    

I recently had an experience at Walmart in which the woman behind the counter didn’t ask me any of the “usual” questions.  I was met only by a tired silence.  She looked harried and battered down by life, and hardly seemed able to have ANY more interactions with her customers that day.    

And you know what?  That entire interaction (or lack thereof) was horribly awkward.

A new television show called “Welcome to Sweden” began airing on the NBC Thursday night line up this summer.

Bruce (Greg Poehler), the main character, has moved with his girlfriend to her native Stockholm.  His clueless, wide-eyed ignorance to the subtleties of her culture is providing endless amounts of comedic material.

In fact, this very question came up in one of the very first episodes.

“I mean,” Bruce says to his girlfriend, Emma,  “What’s wrong with asking people how they’re doing?”

“Well,” Emma replies, “it’s fake. In Sweden, we just do that if we really want to know the answer, you know?”  

“But I DO want to know the answer,” Bruce exclaims.

“No, you don’t.”  

“Yes,”  Bruce insists.  “I genuinely care about how people are doing.”  

“Okay,” Emma says.  “But if you care about Swedes, leave them alone.  Okay?”

Bruce doesn’t buy it. 

“Say, ‘Hej, hej’ at the most,” Emma says.  “If you do more than that, people will think you’re weird.”  

Confused, Bruce says, “Well how do you get to know new people?”

“That’s the whole point, honey.”

Yesterday, Maggie’s Girl Scout leader asked me,  “How are you doing?”

Now, I almost always attempt to answer this with the accepted “I’m fine.”  But suddenly, I just couldn’t.  

Perhaps she seemed  SAFE.  Perhaps I felt as if she really “wanted to know the answer.“  I am not sure.    

“I am sooooooo happy the kids are back in school.  I am not going to lie: this summer really was difficult,” I blurted out.

Summer, the time when activities ~ such as Girl Scouts ~  ceased, was ironically the time where we NEEDED  those activities the most.  

Summer began full of hope and dreams of sleeping in, adventures  and fun-filled days.

But it ended with fighting.  A LOT of fighting.  

And tears.   


And unreasonable, tyrannical demands.  

The “adventures” we had tried to incorporate just turned into different, more exotic places for the kids to try to scratch the other’s eyes out.    

This particular summer melded into one giant blur of angst and crushing thoughts of inadequacy about our parental competence.  

I AM damn happy the kids are back in school.  

There, I said it again.  

And the children are happy to get away from us, too.There have been zero tears. There has been much excitement on both ends.  

And this school year has started afresh with different kind of hopes and dreams, adventures and fun-filled days.  


“How are YOU today?”