As a family we have developed some fun Christmas traditions – going to Swanson’s to see the reindeer, camel and trains; getting hot cocoa and walking through candy cane lane; making a gingerbread train and gingerbread men. Some years we have gone to see the gingerbread houses downtown. The week before my grandma’s party and Christmas, it was fun to do some traditions here in Minnesota that I did as a child. Every year we would put up window decals. When we were kids my mom let us put them up. My mom had decorated for Christmas before we arrived, but she left the window decals for the boys to do! She also bought some Christmas magnets for them to put on the fridge and play with while they were here.


We made gingerbread men. It was fun as Gideon was able to help a lot more – he rolled out the dough and had a lot of ownership of which cutouts he wanted to use. Jeremiah was more into it this year and was able to use the cookie cutters to make a few gingerbread men. It was fun having aunt Kayo help!


And one of the favorite traditions we did when I was a child was to go downtown to the Macy’s 8th Floor Auditorium Display. Every year there is a huge display depicting a story. As you walk through the auditorium you see different scenes of the story, complete with moving character puppets. I think they are doing the same story every year now, but for awhile they did a different story each year. For nostalgic sake we looked up their list of stories and talked about the stories we saw growing up. This year was Santaland.

Dustin has been the sound designer a couple of seasons for SPT’s Santaland Diaries. He was chuckling as he saw played out in real life some of the scenes in the play.


It was also fun for Dustin and I to talk about the production elements – how they built the sets, created the scenes, lighting, moving puppets.


When we got to this scene, Gideon looked under the floor boards. We asked him what he was doing. He said, “looking to see how the peppermint machine works.” Dustin and I smiled.


It was a fun outing introducing the boys to the Macy’s 8th floor!

And one of my favorite traditions this year was using Christmas plates for Christmas Eve dinner.

The Christmas after my grandpa Frederickson passed away my parents and Karl and Bonnie started giving my grandma Frederickson Christmas plates. They each gave her one, so she got 2 new ones each Christmas. From the beginning she knew she wanted enough to be able to gift them to her 4 grandkids at some point. So every Christmas it was so fun to see 2 new beautiful plates to add her collection. They all are different and unique. So for around 20 years, this was her special gift. When she hosted Christmas she would set the table with the plates. At grandma’s table there was always an abundance of really good food and lots of laughter. We would often stay up to an hour after dinner at the table just talking and laughing. 

A couple years ago it became hard for grandma to go up and down her 2 story farmhouse, so she moved into town to an independent living apartment. She also stopped hosting Christmas, so she gifted her 4 grandkids each a set of 12 Christmas plates. I have kept them in Minnesota because it is hard to transport them on a plane. So, this year we used some of my Christmas plates and some of my brother’s for Christmas dinner. These plates are so special. At a time of year that was difficult for my grandma after grandpa passed away, these plates and the family that ate off them became a bright, joyful part of Christmas. Good, good memories immediately come to mind just looking at these plates. And knowing every Christmas my cousins are sitting around their tables, sharing a meal together brings such a smile. I look forward to many more Christmas’s with these plates!


Celebrating Grandma!

If there is one thing my family knows how to do well, it is celebrate! We love celebrating and milestones are particularly special. So when my grandma Opsal turned 90 on December 20, we had a party! It had all the elements she wanted – Norweigan treats (lefse and Krinsekake),

Good food, photos from her life and most importantly family and friends she loves. There was a small program portion to her party. As part of this time, she introduced everyone at her party. She had lots of family there – all her kids, grandkids and great grandkids; her sister, brother-in-law, lots of nieces and nephews. My grandma Frederickson, uncle Karl and aunt Bonnie drove up for it. She had neighbors, a whole table of church friends, friends from Golden Valley (the college my grandpa was president of) and one guest that I found particularly special – her friend she has had since they were toddlers! I was floored. I looked at my toddler and preschooler and started thinking of those that could be friends for life. There was a slideshow with pictures spanning her whole life, which was so special to see. There were pictures of most everyone in attendance, so that was fun to notice people in younger years.

My grandma has lived well. And at 90 she got to celebrate with a room full of loving family and friendships. This is a testament to her life and what she has focused on – Christ and relationships. What hit me most was legacy. I come from a family with a strong legacy. We are weeks away from celebrating my grandma Frederickson’s 95th birthday. Longevity, perseverance, strong relationships with family and friends, faith in Christ that is demonstrated in word and action. It was such a gift to see this in the life of my grandma – her full 90 years of life!



Coming May 2016…

My story of our time in Minnesota continues with me returning to my parents house, Thursday night, the night we flew in. I returned from the high school dinner and my cousin Kelly and her husband Scotty were at my parents house. They were sitting at the table with my brother and his wife Kayo. Kelly and I are the same age. My birthday is in March and Kelly’s is May 29. The funny part of our story is when our parents each found out they were pregnant with us, they came up with boy names and girl names. Every time they would talk and share what names they had picked out, the boy names were the same! They went through three boy names before they each had a different boy name option. Ironically we both were girls! When my brother was born, he was born May 29, sharing a birthday with Kelly.

In 2014 Paul and Kayo got married in October and a month later we went to the Bay Area for Kelly and Scotty’s wedding. Scotty has lived in the United States his whole life, but his family heritage is from Japan. So when I walked into the house they were talking about trips back to Japan to visit family. They also told the story of what happened when Paul and Kayo gave them their Christmas card


Kelly and Scotty asked what month they were due. When Paul and Kayo said May, Kelly said “that is when we are due!” They are pregnant too! Their due dates are 2 weeks apart! So we have been joking the babies will be born on the same day, and they may have to consult on names. But since both couples will find out on January 11 if they are having a boy or girl, they will have some time to change names, so they don’t end up with the same one ūüôā

The next night we had a big dinner with all the Opsal’s at Urban Growler. This was the night Paul and Kayo planned on giving out their Christmas cards to announce their pregnancy. It was such a fun night of celebrating when everyone found out there would be two babies coming in May!

Minnesota Christmas

We have been having a wonderful time here in Minnesota. Each day there are delightful experiences I have wanted to document, so here we go!

Our adventure began with us missing our flight Wednesday. We were able to get a flight out the next day free of charge! We spent the night at a hotel and enjoyed dinner at Denny’s. Gideon was excited to have reindeer pancakes!
And the boys had a lot of fun staying at the hotel!
Our adventure continued with Gideon waking up vomiting. Thankfully it was just once and we were able to have a great flight. Jeremiah slept most of the time and Gideon enjoyed looking out the window at the clouds and the cities below. We would try to guess which state we were in. Gideon is getting older and it was so fun to see how this played out on this plane ride. He sat contentedly in his seat, looked at the emergency pamphlet asking lots of questions about the pictures and what they meant. He was telling Jeremiah when we needed to buckle up because the plane was going to take off. He showed Jeremiah where the jet engine was and was fascinated at the difference between taxing and going down the runway for takeoff. It was so fun to see his maturity in understanding the airport and plane – communicating as much as he could to Jeremiah – and also his curiosity for what he didn’t know about. 

When we arrived we got to baggage claim and were excited to see the Opsal’s waiting for their luggage! My uncle Peter, aunt Sandy and grandma Opsal had flown in from San Diego and were at the same baggage claim. A few minutes later my parents arrived with Paul and Kayo. Then Scotty and Kelly came in as their plane had arrived from San Franscisco. It was a fun, spontaneous mini family reunion at the airport!
I couldn’t stay long as Heidi was picking me up to go to the annual high school Christmas dinner. I had a close knit group of friends in high school and every Christmas they get together for a dinner. It has been 5 years since we have been in Minnesota at Christmas, so I typically can’t attend. It was so fun to reconnect with everyone! We caught up on life, laughed over high school memories and had a delightful time.
The whole entry to Minnesota was such a celebration and such a picture of what I love about the people here – big fun family gatherings and faithful friends. 

Minnesota Trip

It’s been a busy few months for us, so there is a lot to catch up on in this blog. I am going to pick up right¬†where we left off with our Minnesota trip in October.

The weeks in between our trip to the farm, Wisconsin and my brother’s wedding we spent at Marie’s parents house. We enjoyed helping get ready for Paul and Kayo’s wedding as well as seeing the Opsal side of the family.

We rarely get to celebrate birthdays in person with those in Minnesota, so it was a lot of fun to be able to celebrate Karen & Odell’s birthdays with them.


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We went on a carriage ride in Edina.

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We then went to Karen and Odell’s for yogurt and fruit.



Great Grandma Opsal enjoyed snuggle time with Jeremiah (this trip was the first time meeting him).


Gideon loved the blueberries!


The second week we were in Minnesota we¬†went to the Minneapolis Children’s Museum. We¬†were really bummed as we missed the Thomas the Train exhibit by one week, but we got to see the Clifford exhibit.

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Gideon really enjoyed driving the bus at the children’s museum!

That second week¬†Kayo’s family arrived from Japan. We got to enjoy a couple days with them before the wedding, which was fun. Marie had met Kayo’s dad when she had visited Paul in Japan in 2008 but got to meet her brothers, nephew and cousin. The first night they arrived, Kayo taught Marie how to make sushi. The next day two other Japanese friends arrived, Gaku and Yukari. That night Marie, Kayo and¬†Yukari¬†made homemade pizza.


It was an enjoyable couple of weeks spending time with lots of family!


Our trip to Minnesota this year was longer than most years, which meant we got to spend some extra time in Wisconsin with our friends, the Boehnen’s. We had 5 days with them – what a treat! We had a lot of fun together.

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Swimming in their pool!

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Going to the Eau Claire Children’s Museum

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Going on a train ride

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Eating good food

And lots of good play time for the kids. Between our two families we had four boys, 3 and under. It was a ton of fun!

Marie enjoyed spending good quality time with her goddaughter, Joy. We painted our nails, had girl talk, and read American Girl books together.

The adults enjoyed playing games, talking and soaking in the hot tub! And of course Dustin enjoyed cheering for the Green Bay Packers with fellow fans! It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time with them and do life together for a few days!

Jeremiah 6 months

Before we continue posts on Minnesota we wanted to post some photos of Jeremiah. He is six months! He has grown a lot in these first 6 months.

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It is so fun to see his personality coming through. He has lots of smiles, just like Gideon. He loves his older brother and Gideon loves him. By 5 months he was scooting and is working on crawling right now. He is just trying to keep up with Gideon! He has started to eat solids and is so happy that he is at the table with us over meals. He babbles to stay in conversation with all of us. He is most happy when he is playing with Gideon, mommy or daddy.

He also enjoys playing ball! Note: This video was taken in September when he was 4 months.

Minnesota – Farm Fun!

We went to Minnesota the end of September/ early October. We hadn’t been to Minnesota in 2 years, so it was very fun to go and see everyone. There is a lot we did while we were there, so I will be doing a couple of posts about our trip.

We drove there, so our first stop was to Southwestern Minnesota where my Uncle Karl, Aunt Bonnie, Grandma Frederickson and cousins Krista and Beth and their families live. We got in late on a Friday night to Mark and Beth’s house. They have 2 boys¬†as well. Tyler is now 3 and Rylan is 6 months (a couple weeks older than Jeremiah), so our boys are very close in age. Saturday morning when the boys woke up, it was non stop play for Gideon and Tyler. They loved playing together. Both were always wondering where the other one was and wanting to play. Jeremiah and Rylan also had fun playing together!


On Saturday we also picked up grandma Frederickson and then made our way to Andy and Krista’s new vineyard. They have two girls Annika and Elysa. Paul and Kayo came to the vineyard too, so it was a ton of fun being together as cousins with all the second cousins having so much fun playing together!


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Grandma Frederickson enjoyed time with her grandkids and great grandkids!

A definite highlight for Gideon was getting to drive the tractor with Uncle Andy.

It was so much fun to have a lot of space for the kids to play. Gideon loved running everywhere and playing with the animals.

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Sunday we went to Frederickson Farms. We had a mini bridal shower for Kayo, since we couldn’t be at the official one earlier in the week. Just before she opened her presents Gideon and Tyler played a little concert for us all.

Gideon also got another tractor ride, this time with Uncle Mark.

It is so fun watching this video because it brings back so many memories  for Marie of riding in the tractor with her cousins and grandpa Frederickson. So many wonderful memories of being on this farm. And Gideon has already started those same good memories. As we were getting ready to leave to head to the Twin Cities to my parents house, Gideon was running around wanting to go to the barns again and find the tractor to ride.

It was a wonderful start to our trip – time with my cousins, Paul and Kayo. And the second cousins got a lot of really good time together.


Lincoln City

It has been a fun couple months for our family. We have had 2 vacations. The first one was to Lincoln City, OR with Dustin’s family. The second was to Minnesota to visit Marie’s family. This post is about our time in Lincoln City.

We enjoyed a time with all of Dustin’s family. Dustin’s parents rented a large house for a week and members of the family came for as much or as little as they were able. It was a very enjoyable time!

It was Jeremiah’s first vacation and Gideon’s first time to Oregon. On the drive down Gideon really enjoyed looking out the window and seeing the view, especially the bridge in Astoria.

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The highlight of the trip for Dustin and I was seeing Gideon’s pure joy playing in the ocean. Each time we went to the beach we ran into the water.¬†Joy! Pure¬†joy!



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Gideon enjoyed learning to fly a kite with Uncle Zach.

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Jeremiah enjoyed the beach too.


Everyday we went down to the beach to enjoy the ocean and play. Beach time is a little different now with kids (not as much¬†lounging with a book) but it was relaxing and rejuvenating in different ways – seeing Gideon have space to explore and play in a much wider¬†arena than we have at home brought a peace and stillness to my soul that I don’t often feel in the city. A completely different rhythm to our day was a breath of fresh air. And the joy of relationships being cultivated and enjoyed over a leisurely couple of days was satisfying.

At the beach house there was a swing set for the kids. Jeremiah had his first try at a swing.

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There was also a garage with a pool table and air hockey. Gideon enjoyed learning both. We worked on a puzzle together, made smores in the fire pit, enjoyed the hot tub and of course ate good food!


We had this look on our face much of the time.

Another fun memory is the day before we left we went to another beach and saw the tide pools. This was another highlight for us.

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It was a very enjoyable vacation for everyone. We look forward to future vacations at the Oregon coast!

And of course a drive back from the Oregon coast wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Tillamook Cheese Factory!

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Dustin’s 30th

Dustin turned 30 this July. He says he’s been in his 30s for 3 years (since¬†Marie is 33), but we definitely needed to celebrate this turn of the decade. The weekend before his birthday Marie told him we were going to a Mariners¬†game as a family. This was true, however, when we got there we recognized those sitting around us. SURPRISE!

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We had a good turn out of 20 people enjoying the game together. Dustin enjoyed spending time with friends and family and watching baseball.

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After the game there was a run around the bases for kids, so we brought Gideon down to do this.

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Gideon loved running the bases. And Mariner moose ran with him from 2nd base until home plate! Dustin enjoyed running with Gideon and sharing a love of baseball together!

After the game we drove home, made a few leisurely stops along the way and were ready to settle in for a family night. But when we got up the stairs at our place – SURPRISE! There were around 30 people there to surprise Dustin. And Dustin was definitely surprised! He thought his day of surprises was over. We enjoyed food, drink and cake to celebrate. It was a joyous day celebrating Dustin!



The next weekend was Dustin’s actual birthday. On Saturday was when we went to Day Out With Thomas. And Sunday, on his birthday, we had a great family day, including a hike at carkeek park.

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Dustin said it was a wonderful mixture of celebrating with friends and family and enjoying time with just the 4 of us. Happy 30th!