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Monday, January 21, 2013

Pictures from the drawer

The Thoe family has a drawer full of photos that has found its home in my grandma and grandpa Thoe's house (primarily because the photos never left the farm that has been run by Thoe's for five generations). Last year my sisters and I scanned in most of the photos and uploaded them to a shutterfly account. We labeled them with the help of Grandma, Grandpa and my Grandpa's sisters. Of course, this process involves a narrative that gives personality to the family members we have never met. Bonnie and I have developed theories about who was mischievous and who was a grump, based on their facial expressions in photos over the years.

I've tried to write down most of the stories that have been passed down to us, and match them with the corresponding pictures. Someday, when I feel that I've gotten the stories polished, I'll share them as well. In the meantime, I thought it'd be fun to share some of my favorite photos from the drawer- the photos that have no story. 

We've spent hours speculating the nameless folks in these photos. We've tried to match the architecture of the buildings in the background to a farm we know. We've tried to find anyone that resembles the people in these photos in any of the other photos in the drawer. We have a few theories, but overall, these are the orphan photos. 

First, there are two pictures of a beautiful and stylish young lady having what appears to be a very fun day. Grandpa thinks it might be his mother, Ethel Grovedahl; I choose to think it is.  (-: The third picture is one of my personal favorites; a young man in a business suit and another in overalls.  The fourth photo shows a young girl on her confirmation day in a beautiful dress, probably hand sewn. Grandpa thinks it could be his aunt Lorraine (Ethel's sister). The last picture is simply labeled 1921. We think it could be a picture of the old farm in Norway sent in the mail from relatives.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Millenials: Can we do it? Yes we can!

There are certain moments that will come to mind again and again in your life as the very moment you transitioned from one phase of life to the next. Of course, there are the obvious landmarks: high school graduation, leaving home, first mortgage, marriage etc, but there are also smaller moments that often have just as significant an impact.
Standing on the cold cement floor of my aunt’s basement, tears of disbelief began to fall as Bonnie broke the news to me about Santa Clause. She had found out only the day before, and though she was five years older, she just couldn’t face the new reality without dragging me down with her.
The first time I came to school in seventh grade without braces or glasses I felt a confidence that I have seldom experienced since. As I stepped into the school in maroon pleather pants and sparkly blue eye shadow, I knew I was finally a teen.
Unfortunately, I remember the gradual realization that my metabolism had slowed down considerably post-high school (what? I can't eat pizza every night?) In graduate school, my world grew exponentially beyond the familiarity and comfort of choirs, teams, cliques and other small ponds in which I was a larger fish.
Lately, I’ve been watching as my generation slowly fills positions of power and respect. The sweet, charming girl I sat next to in Carthage Choir became Miss America. A young man I met through College Democrats of Wisconsin became the youngest member of the Wisconsin State Legislature. I see one of my former speech competitors on the nightly news and one of my colleagues from grad school is now the voice of Marketplace Morning on MPR. I’m only 26, I can’t wait to see the many ways my friends, and my generation, will continue to surprise me.
I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this transition. People give the millenials a lot of guff, but personally I think we have a lot of potential. We grew up reading Harry Potter and watching Full House, remnants of a slightly more innocent time. (Not exactly on par with the innocence of the 50s, but at least we remember life before Facebook . ) I mean, we’re not all bad. At least we know the difference between an emoji and an adjective. When we are old and crotchety we can waggle our fingers and proudly tell our grandkids that we remember landlines, dial-up internet, rolls of camera film, and of course, walking uphill to school both ways.
Many of us also entered an unwelcoming job market, teaching us perseverance, sacrifice and determination. Many of us consider climate change a scientific reality rather than a political talking point or a problem of the fictional future. Most of us think denying anyone the right to marriage is unjust and unacceptable.  Most of us expect we will not enjoy the same Social Security benefits in place today. We’ve watched Congress become so polarized that they are nearly unable to pass anything of significance.
We've been watching, and we're ready for our turn to take a stab at things... I'm putting my bets on the 20 and 30 somethings; I think we might just pull through. 

P.S. Watch Laura's farewell as she crowns the next Miss America Saturday on ABC. Laura has accomplished great things in the past year. She is such a modest, sincere and person, the next Miss America has some very big stilettos to fill!

Laura and Amanda in Vienna. Carthage Choir Europe Tour 2009
(A highlight: we told someone we met that Laura was a famous opera singer... turns out that while it wasn't true at the time, it sort of came to fruition!)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 Highlights and 2013 Predictions

This is the second year I'm trying to force everyone to join me in a new NYE tradition. We write down our predictions for the new year, five years from now and ten years from now. Then we put them away until the following New Year's, at which point we can laugh at our predictions. Oh.. .and we can gloat at the things we got right (I mean, I did predict the Katie/Tom, Kristen/Robert break-ups).

Drew pretty well summed up the highlights in our Christmas letter. As Drew wasn’t in South Africa with me, he omitted my favorite part of the trip. While we loved the landscape, the wildlife, and the wine, the highlight was the time we spent getting to know our hosts. We had such a nice time with our hosts, I hope to see those crazy boertjies again sometime!

So here it goes, my 2013 predictions:


Tax Reform: Say farewell to the mortgage interest deduction as we know it. I think it will be revised so it continues to be made available to the middle and lower class, but to a lesser extent. I also think the charitable contributions deduction will be curtailed. I also think it is likely that the exclusion of taxpayer paid health benefits will be phased out. The Corporate Research Credit will be repealed... Oh, who am I kidding? Scratch all that.

Congress will fail to do anything because despite widespread agreement that we need entitlement reform, budget cuts, and a serious look at gun control; Congress won’t actually propose any substantial plans because they would all be wildly unpopular.

As a result Congress will continue to demonstrate levels of compromise that would be considered deplorable in any preschool. 

Congress will pass legislation requiring online retailers to collect and remit sales tax, making my graduate thesis irrelevant.

Chris Coleman will continue to please St. Paulites by finding new ways to make the city even more endearing, enchanting, clean and exciting than it already is; hopefully he'll kick off 2013 by figuring out a clever way to entice a new business into the Macy's vacancy.


Best Buy & Barnes and Noble will kick the bucket. The economy will continue to slug along at a 1.5-2% growth rate.  

I think 2013 will be the year we turn the corner on fuel efficiency. Technological breakthroughs will lay the foundation for affordable, fuel-efficient transportation.


Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling will fall in love. <3

Kate and William will have a little baby girl named Elizabeth. She will be the most beautiful child the world has seen since Suri Cruise.
The series finale of 30 rock will suggest that Jack and Liz are going to end up together in the long-run... (wishful thinking, I know.)

Stephanie Meyers will write a fifth Twilight book involving the Cullen takeover of the Volturi. (I predicted this last year and it did not come to fruition, but here’s hoping for 2013.)

Leo DiCaprio, the only man capable of pulling off Jay Gatsby other than Robert Redford, will surprise no one by being amazing, as usual.

Personal Life

Drew will write a story that will be published in Budget Travel about our trip to California and Oregon.

We will somehow strike it rich and abscond to a little village in Croatia or Italy... sigh. Wishful thinking again.

Sorry these are a little weak, but it's all I could come up with!