social media theme

Distance separates us from some of our grandkids, so I rely on social media for glimpses into their lives. This week revealed a theme I had to share here.

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Cassidy color balls

(Cassidy is on the left.)

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(screenshot snatched from a video)


Who can guess what is the theme?

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a night out

With all there is to do these days, it took some finagling with time and responsibilities to plan a night out.

I was one of 5,100 registrants for this year’s Mission ConneXion Northwest, number 16, held in nearby Tualatin at Rolling Hills Community Church.

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We were warned by email we should carpool if possible because we’d be turned away once the parking lot was full. So my across-the-street neighbor Julie agreed to let me ride along with her and Grace; Marilyn shared the backseat with me. We arrived in plenty of time but still waited outside for 20+ minutes due to a bottleneck getting our name tags, which turned out to be an empty lanyard!

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Didn’t matter! My friends Ridgely and Wally recognized me in a moment! Such a serendipity to bump into them in the crowd of strangers!

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How much more unlikely, then, to bump into Jeff and Christine (and the Phelans, who took our picture). That’s Marilyn, Grace, and Julie in front with me. You recognize me, right? Even without a name in my lanyard?

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The main draw for me was a chance to see and hear Francis Chan in person. I highly respect this man’s teaching and communication of truth and have watched many videos of him.

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Between our early dinner and the plenary session we were given a choice of workshops. No contest for me; I wanted to attend the Q&A with Francis Chan! By the time I arrived it was standing room only in this relatively small room. I managed to score the perfect spot on a high stool by the entrance.

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I had to resist the temptation to shout AMEN throughout the Q&A. This man speaks my mind!

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“Are there going to be people there?” Yes, Mauri, there will be people there. Even if he wasn’t housebound (three weeks now!) with back issues, he would have declined attending this event. There were definitely people there. I waited in this sardine crowd for the doors to the worship center to open.

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Another powerful message, although Chan made me “nervous” about one theological viewpoint we seem to not share. It gave the four of us something to talk about on the drive home. Also with Mauri, since he watched the whole thing on live streaming. How cool is that? He didn’t even have to leave home to enjoy a night out with me.

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being a dad

It appears daddies comforting their sick two-year-old sons runs in our family this year.

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Taylor with Declan

Pete and Lincoln

Pete with Lincoln

It’s sad but also very sweet.

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desert photoshoot

The day after Christmas Taylor Finkbeiner met us in the Arizona desert for an hour of posing and clicking, and here are my picks of her results.


















Like this . . .



circa 1978


circa 2017

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christmas overview

Here it is the end of New Year’s Day, and I’m eager to share some of our Christmas family time before I go back to work in the morning.


But first — a quick look at what happened in Virginia right before we all gathered in Arizona. Ben had flown there from Michigan to be the godfather of Avery at her baptism.

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Here’s the proud daddy with Avery.

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The Carlson family shared a VRBO (vacation rental by owner) with Mauri and me, or the other way around. It was quite a satisfactory arrangement, especially having the littles readily available to their Gus and Gum. We like their parents too, of course. Don’t be confused, though; that’s Quinn holding Avery, which means I have Emery.

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Mauri got in the act too, holding or feeding or entertaining one of the girls. Here he’s teaching Emery some keyboard skills on Declan’s iPad.

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I might be choosing some favorite pictures, so of course this one of Quinn with her baby made the cut.

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Ben treated us to a Suns game. They owned the third quarter but still lost by seven. We did some mighty cheering though from our vantage.

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We might not have made the kiss cam, but we had a perfect view of this birthday message, several months early for our Quinn.

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Christmas Eve at Redemption Gateway, the Andersons’ church. The music rocked, but neither baby made a peep throughout the message. Cousins here! Three Andersons hold three Carlsons. Declan might have been a little overwrought from being in childcare.

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Beth always appreciates having an extra set of arms to help out.

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Dusty pulled out something from the bag of entertainment that goes with the Andersons to their Sunday night assignment of caring for the Walkers class.

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That was followed by a long jump with cousin Cassidy on her trampoline. It was easy to get a smiling picture of Declan here!

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Christmas night, all the cooking and eating accomplished, with time to enjoy the afterglow. Love those high feet!

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Uncle Ben with “his” baby.

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Cass shows Declan the neighbor’s over-the-top lights display.

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Issy Bear (a.k.a. IB) found a friend.

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More of the babies. If you knew how many pictures I have of them, you’d be able to appreciate my restraint.

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The day after Christmas we enjoyed a family photoshoot with our friend Taylor Finkbeiner at San Tan Mountain Regional Park. You might guess I’ll inundate you with family pictures in the days to come.


Ben was in the photoshoot but he obliged me with a photoshoot of his very own in the Andersons’ backyard.

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Time to say goodbye to these dear ones. Of course they sent us off with a white-hanky farewell. Till we meet again!

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remembering cousin doug

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Mauri and I drove into Portland this afternoon to join other family members and their friends in a time to honor and celebrate the life of Mauri’s cousin Doug. Cousin Rebecca started the sharing by telling stories of their childhood days in Central Oregon. Cousin Gregg managed to fit in a story or two in between the many that people who knew and loved Doug wanted to share. Finally, it neared time to be out of the space rented for this gathering, so Rebecca headed to the electric keyboard to lead us in their family song, “Don’t Fence Me In.” The lyrics were printed so we could all sing along. A fitting closing.

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Mauri enjoyed a conversation with his Gregg while I took advantage of the photo op.

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Cousins Richard and Terry (Macy, of course), who drove up from Central Oregon, joined the conversation. Note Gregg’s red socks. Rebecca and Cousin Marilyn wore them too. Turns out Doug always wore red socks, but no one knows the significance.

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We were upstairs in this cool old renovated building.

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Rebecca said Doug’s birth was celebrated with fireworks and sirens. She noted it might have had something to do with his arrival being on August 12, 1945, the day World War II ended.

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back to life in the fast lane


Down in El Paso, we had just crossed the border. Raul and Juan Carlos dropped us off at Harvest Christian Center, where we’d parked our cars several days earlier. Only a few minutes later, a couple from Waco showed up with their two dogs.


It was the planned rendezvous for the transfer of ownership of “Bear,” the 4-month-old French bulldog that would become part of the Anderson family.


Quinn and Dusty were certain there would not be room in their lives for another dog, but Cassidy convinced them away from that certainty, resulting in a search for just the right pup.


She didn’t seem traumatized by all the new humans surrounding her.

Issy Bear

Here’s a good look at “Issy Bear,” who will grow to around twice this size.

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Unrelated, but a pic I needed to share—snapped by John or Erin down on the job site. Mauri in his Cubbies hat. I hold dear several favorite pictures of this man, and this one will join that select few.

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Our faraway “kids” have adventured into life in Virginia.

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I screenshot this from Facebook. The Carlson family will move from their temporary dwelling at Beth’s parents’ home in Herndon, VA, to their “new” home in the Dominion Valley area of Haymarket, VA, on December 16. The babies will be baptized that same day. Ben is flying there from Michigan to be godfather to one of the girls.

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Here’s a rare family photo. I hope Ben can get some good pictures next weekend!

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For some reason Taylor was eager to have at least one child with blue eyes. Wish granted! When you fall head over heels for a beautiful woman with brown eyes, it stands to reason your children will likely have the dominant brown eyes. Maybe he hoped for one Swedish trait to carry down the generations.

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We’ve enjoyed connections with our local kids/grands this week. Last Sunday we were invited to observe Lincoln’s response to the train set we gave him for his birthday.

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He knew just what to do with it!

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Just look at that face.

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We stuck around for a snack and some more play time——for Mauri!

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Back at home, we spent the next 45 minutes decorating for Christmas. I realize this is a small investment, but let me tell you our house is stunning dressed with candles (battery operated, come on at dusk, go off at dawn) in all the windows, wreaths on the doors, and our little tree cheering the room where we spend the most time.

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See it there behind us?

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Still——we thought John and Erin’s house was perfectly decked for Christmas too.
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We’d gone over to rehearse with John for tomorrow’s worship at NFC. . .

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. . . while the girls entertained themselves.

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Earlier in the day we’d walked a few blocks to Sage’s school to hear her class’s Christmas program. Parents were invited to come forward to take pictures. We didn’t have the best view of our singer, but after the songs, we heard Sage’s name called to receive her class’s award for being the most grateful.

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We participated in the “silent cheer”——waving both hands in the air (silently, as opposed to clapping). The silence was broken by uproarious laughter when the principal got “pied” during his closing speech.

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