December 22, 2009

Another Diabetic day (plus two nights).

Well, it might not be as exciting as the last one, but it has been quietly stressful for me the past two nights and a day.

Sunday night I was getting ready for bed, late because I was finishing an excellent book, and I needed to do a quick set change with my pump. Not a big deal, I have to do it every three days anyway. But this time, as I was priming the pump it started doing it’s vibrating thing when it shouldn’t. I looked on the screen and saw “A33” I pushed a button, and it flashed at me. Hmmm… this is interesting.

After a bit of fiddling I realized that the pump was stuck in a rewind/prime loop because of this “A33.” I dug out the manual to find out what “A33” was. The manual simpily said that it was an Alarm. (Well, that is good information, kind of…) The number, 33, indicated what kind of alarm it was, but the book doesn’t share all those details.

So, I called Medtronic’s 24 hour help line. I am so very glad for that line! (Although they just changed the number on me and the recording told me to look at my recent mailings for the new number. But I don’t have a recent mailing with a new number! I did find it online though. )

Long and the short of it… I was about to go through a pump users biggest fear, being pump-less because of a pump malfunction. I’ve been using a pump for almost 4 years now, and for the past 4 years my pump has nicely done all my thinking for me. I barely remember how to take a needle to get insulin, let alone figure out how much to take!

David got up for me, just before midnight, to see if he could find a way to get the information off my pump so I could guess at how much insulin to take to keep me well until morning. It didn’t work because the alarm on my pump was also blocking any ability to get information off of it. So I had to wing it.

For the past 34 hours I have been “winging it.” And doing a pretty good job if I say so myself. But it was stressful. I was busy making sure I had put insulin in me at least every 4 hours, so I wouldn’t have any ketone trouble like I had a few weeks ago. I also forgot how to treat a low. I mean, how much sugar do you take when you don’t have the option to shut the insulin off at the same time? So I stayed close to home, did little exercise, and a lot of eating.

This morning the UPS guy delivered my replacement pump. It is set up and attached, and I can’t tell you how relieved I am! It’s familiar. I’m used to constantly thinking about my pump: where it is, where to attach it, what to do with it while I am changing clothes or showering. I am glad I have it back to do my thinking for me. I don’t have to worry about getting out a syringe and vial every time I want a little snack, I can just push a button or two. I don’t have to eat if I don’t want to and I can eat if I do want to. It’s a lot easier on the brain. I am glad to have it back!

My pump

Me and my pump, just about 4 years ago when we first got it.)

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

December 08, 2009

Ten things I would write about if I took the time to do so:

*Birthday Quilt - This does deserve a post or two of it’s own, so I won’t go into more detail now.

Quilt Pieces

*Bella - I could always say more about Bella, since she is my new constant companion and we are learning more together all the time. Beautiful in her walking gear.

Walking Bella

*Great Blogger’s Ornament Exchange! - This does deserve a post of it’s own, so I’ve put one up on Jar of Wood You should check it out!

*Our “Post Thanksgiving Shopping Deal” - Our New Table! Only 36 dollars!! Can’t be beat! I saw it at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift shop just before Thanksgiving, thought David should see it with me after work on Friday, being the day after Thanksgiving, and it was half price! It also JUST fit in the car and the door to the apartment. Good thing! Wood, round, like new, two leaves, and matches our chairs!

new Table

*My 30th Birthday - What a Fantastic day! David and I took it nice and easy which was perfect after a busy Thanksgiving. Thank you everyone for the Birthday greetings! That was wonderful!

30th Birthday

(Highlight of the day, bringing Bella to the dog park for the first time. It’s so much fun to watch her run!)

*Christmas Decorating (or, Where is my Christmas “Cheer”?) - I feel like I should be excited to decorate for Christmas, but I’m having a hard time doing it. That isn’t normal for me. I think it’s because my birthday was so exciting that I feel like I’ve already had Christmas. So far this is what I’ve done with decorating.


*David in the Christmas Musical - Christmas in the Red - Playing this week! David’s evenings are taken up with orchestra practice!

*Free Christmas Music! - 25 songs free, on each day of December until Christmas. I found other free music there, too, and I’m loving it! I love adding Christmas music to my collection. Every year a few new songs should be added. This year I got 45 songs , free!

*For the love of Plaid - This is the only skirt I still wear from High School. My mom made it for me, I still love it. Besides being warm, it’s the New Brunswick Tartan. Once, while wearing this skirt and had my hair in braids, a man came up to me and asked me if I was really Scottish. I was very sorry to disappoint him. Dutch I am, but glad I can look Scottish too.

Plaid Skirt

*The Invisible Banana - Why don’t we see the browning banana on the counter? In our house, once a banana starts getting a few brown spots, it never fails to turn invisible to us and sits there getting even browner and browner and browner…You don’t need a picture… It’s really too bad that I can’t make good banana bread.

But, I obviously don’t have time to write about all of these things, so you will just have to pretend I did.

In Christ,


Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

November 18, 2009

Bella at Play

Today was an unusual day for me and Bella. It was another day of “Firsts.”

We went for our usual walk, but took it at noon today. I thought we should stop by the fenced area to see if there were any other dogs out that she could play with. Just as we were approaching the fence, another resident was bringing her two dogs out too. After asking if it was ok for Bella to join them. I let Bella play.

It was the roughest play I’ve seen Bella in yet!

David and I are rather quiet people at home, and Bella has been rather shy of other dogs and people since we got her. I knew she was getting better with dogs, and I’ve been enjoying seeing it happen. Today was another level all together. She was running around, rolling around, getting her ear bitten and pulled, and she just kept going back for more. So I let her.

After all that play, she walked almost perfectly for the next 45 minutes for me! I thought she must be exhausted because by the end she was walking so well she was either beside me or behind me the last block. Very unusual for her!

Well, she isn’t as tired as I thought…

Bella 1

I guess the rough housing was stimulating enough that she wasn’t ready to settle down when we got home. She went to attack her canvas roll toy and made a mess all over the living room!

Bella 2

That wasn’t enough, then she decided to attack her rope, but I really think it was the camera flash that made her decide that playing with her roll wasn’t worth it…


In Christ,

Rita :)

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

November 13, 2009

Life in Fargo

We have been living here now for just over two months, and life has been settling nicely into routine and activities.

David is still enjoying work a lot, and hopes to tell you about it soon, soon being relative. :) He has also joined the orchestra at church, Bethel E Free. Right now they are working on the Christmas Musical called Christmas in the Red.


(Photo of David playing with the Bethel Grove Church Quartet, in Upstate NY, while camping with the church.)

David has also been spending a quite a bit of time working on a web page for a friend: Alyssa Jeanne Studios Check it out! He has done a great job with it! It is still under construction…

I’ve been keeping myself busy with a lot of little things here and there. Besides taking care of Bella and walking with her everyday I have been going to church with David Wednesday nights to knit or crochet while David plays trumpet.


My first knit project finished!! I started it in January or February and picked it up again since I got here. I love the colours.


I just finished this blanket this morning! My first crochet project in a year or two I think.

On Thursday mornings I bring David to work, then head to church to help make coffee for Women’s Bible Studies. I’ve been going to a class working through The Truth Project I’ve been enjoying it a lot. It gives me a lot of stuff to think about.

I’ve been carving again. This past weekend we went to David’s parents’ for the weekend and I spent a few hours cutting out spoon blanks enough to keep me busy all winter.

I also took a few hours to work on a shawl pin for one of the knitters from Wednesday night.

Shawl pin

I used a piece of goncalo alves wood that I had left over from a spoon. The colour matches the shawl very nicely.

I have a set of spoons finished as of last week too, but have yet to take a photo of them.

A last photo of Bella, from our walk the other day. The weather here has been beautiful! And incase you were curious, and didn’t see my added comment to my last post, Bella DOES like wearing her shirts. When it’s cold out and I give her the option she tried to dive into it! It’s quiet amusing.

Oh, and I forgot to add, the for the next 5 weeks, David and I are attending Dog Obedience classes with Bella at Red River North Obedience.



Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

October 29, 2009

Adventures with Bella

Well, life with a dog is definitely different than what we are used to! The first week and a bit was hardest. I didn’t know what to do with another body in the house, all day long! But Bella and I are adjusting quite well and David is coming along too. It’s harder when he is at work all day.

Here are a few photos of the past two and a half weeks.


Bella is allowed in three of our five rooms in our apartment, one of them is the bathroom. I refuse to pet her while doing my business, but I don’t object to her being in the bathroom with me. So she often resorts to curling up perfectly on a round rug.


Bella’s insane look when she is begging to be petted. It’s the first look she gave us when we brought her home (actually, it can be worse!). We don’t pet her when she looks at us this way, we wait until she is more calm and not so crazy looking. She often comes to me while I’m at the computer to beg for attention.


Bella came housebroken but not leash trained. We have been working hard with that, especially on the weekends when David is home. Here she is supposed to be behind or beside David, not in front of him, but it’s the beginning of the exercise, so we don’t ask for much.


I let David do the hard work and then I finish up when she is already starting to “get it.”

Hide and Seek

David was playing Hide and Seek with Bella after work one night, but there are not too many places to hide. David climbed in the tub and we thought, “Hey, what a great way to get her used to being by the tub for a future bath!”


Even before we got a dog, I knew I wanted the dog to be able to carry a little back pack for me with my emergency diabetic supplies. Here it is! Bella, all decked out and ready to go! (Sorry for the “red-eye”)


Since Fargo can get rather cold in the winter time, I had been trying to figure out what the best thing would be to do for Bella. A friend heard a trick from someone else for inexpensive dog sweaters. She recommended cutting up a pair of sweat pant legs to get a great fitting tube top type shirt. Her daughter does it for the pit bull she has and the dog loves is. So I hunted the local thrift store for the perfect pants. We love the nice stripe. And Bella doesn’t mind being put into sweaters, etc. I haven’t figured out yet if she prefers it or not, but she doesn’t complain.


One thing Bella does complain about is getting her picture taken. She doesn’t care for the flash, and she is skittish to anything foreign in my hands around her. But she will tolerate it long enough to get a photo or two.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

October 11, 2009

Hello Bella!

Big news of the weekend…. David and I adopted a dog!


Incase you haven’t heard, I’ve been wanting a dog since before we were married, but I don’t think I mentioned it to David until after the ceremony. His first reaction: “We have to talk about this one.”

It’s 5 years later and we have done a lot more talking the past two years. David agreed that when we moved from Ithaca we could get a dog, since we were not allowed to get one while living in the trailer park.

I’ve been stalking the web site looking for the perfect dog ever since David was thinking seriously about moving to Fargo. We have been putting it off until after I got back from Montana. Well, now I’m back!

David and I filled out an application with them before I left, so that when we found the right dog we wouldn’t have to wait and could be first in line.

Yesterday was another Meet and Greet at PetSmart with the 4 Luv dogs, I was planning on meeting one or two there, but wasn’t really excited about them. They were not my ideal of a dog. Then… yesterday morning bright and early, two more dogs were posted and one looked perfect!

Longer story shorter, 4 Luv had the dog at PetSmart for us to meet and she was perfect! Female, under 30 pounds, but just! (apartment rules), over a year old. Not timid, good with other dogs and probably good with children.

When David and I met her she was calm amidst the chaos. (It was a VERY busy week, lots of dogs and lots of people!) She doesn’t walk well on a leash yet, but that was the only bad thing they knew about her.

So, it worked out that last night she came home with us! It’s been less than 24 hours but it feels a lot longer. David and I are learning a LOT. We don’t really know dogs all that well. We have a lot to learn, but we like this dog and are glad to learn with her.

We’ve named her Bella.

Bella tired

(I just brought her for a long walk, she is tired, but she isn’t very active inside anyway. She does love to be close to us and found the perfect spot between our computer desks.)

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

October 09, 2009

Montana Trip

Last weekend I drove with a former roommate to Montana to attend another former roommate’s wedding.

It was a bitter-sweet trip, so I thought I’d share pictures instead of a lot of words.


It was a fantastically beautiful drive! I’ve didn’t know that the Painted Canyon is located in west North Dakota. I was staring hard over the steering wheel the whole way through! Sorry I didn’t think to take any photos of it. In Montana we hit our first snow.

Champion Larch

Taking a walk to the Champion Larch tree, over 1000 years old! (We really went for a walk after the wedding Ceremony, but I thought these photos would be nicer to come before the grand event than after.)

Warm Clothes

So, it was a little bit cold. I am definately in layers! I wasn’t really cold the whole weekend, which is nice. I’m glad I brought way more clothes than I needed!

The Bride

The Bride.

We stayed at a camp with log cabins and a beautiful log lodge. There was no heat in most of the cabins and the weather was cold. The lodge was the only community warm building. Needless to say, I was there a lot! Here Allison is staying warm until last minute before heading out for the wedding ceremony.

The Scenery

The campground was located on Seely Lake, MT. A beautiful lake and beautiful hills in the back ground.

Bride's Maids

It was a bit cold, I think I mentioned that. Thankfully the bridesmaids were able to find needed clothing to keep warm while still wearing their chosen dresses. (Deborah M., how do you like the scarf?)

Bridal Walk

Allison as a Fairy Bride.

Van Dyk Women

Grandma VanDyk taking photo of Tricia and Miriam Groenewold-vanDyk.

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

October 08, 2009

Interesting Diabetes Day

I don’t usually write posts about my health. Mostly because it’s rather status quo and not much to report on. Today was such a different/weird day that I thought I would share.

It was a rather ordinary day. I went to Bible study this morning and had a wonderful time! Then ran errands, etc. Just my new regular Thursday.

In the middle of the afternoon I was starting to feel funny. I didn’t want to feel funny, I wanted to go to the fabric store to look at beautiful fabrics, then I had to pick David up from work.

On my way to the fabric store I was getting waves of nausea, not much fun, but couldn’t figure out why. I wasn’t sick. I thought it might have been food poisoning, but I couldn’t think of anything I had ate that would have been bad.

An hour later when I was waiting in the parking lot for David to finish work I thought I wasn’t going to make it home without vomiting. I was feeling so yucky and nauseated. Since I couldn’t think of anything I had eaten that would have caused this, I thought I had better check my sugars. They were over 300!!! (20 mmL for the metric people) I’m very rarely ever that high! Especially when I was sure I took insulin at lunch and thought I might be going low. Well, it was strange enough that I thought I had better check my ketones too. (I carry strips on me for emergencies.)

The test strip jumped from clear to maroon immediately. That means LARGE ketones. For those that don’t know, if ketones are left untreated people go into “diabetic ketoacidosis” which is usually the cause of comas for diabetic. I have never had large ketones before. I’ve had small ketones when I’ve been sick with the flu, that is almost standard, never large ketones.

David got me home as quick as possible and I was trying hard to keep the nausea down. He sent me to bed and I took insulin to counter act the ketones.

I was feeling better and hour and a half later, but on checking my sugars they had barely gone down at all! So I checked ketones too, they were still large! That didn’t make any sense to me. I took Plenty of insulin!

I had also just run out of insulin in my pump (as happens every 2.5-3 days) and went to change my set. When I pulled off the catheter I noticed that it had come apart. That was weird. Then I remembered!

This morning, when I went to the bathroom at Bible study, my thumb caught at the catheter and pulled. It really stung, but that was all. Come to find out at the end of the day that I really pulled it out so that I spent the whole day thinking I was getting insulin when really I was barely getting any, if any!

No wonder my sugars were out of whack and my ketones were large! It takes only 4 hours without insulin to develop ketones.

My diabetic educator told me this could happen. Or something could act up with the pump so that I wasn’t getting the needed insulin. It’s been almost 4 years with the pump and this is the first time I’ve ever had it happen.

Side note: The first thing I learned in the hospital library, the day I was diagnosed, was that before the 1920’s when insulin was discovered, a person diagnosed with diabetes essentially had a 2 year life sentence. With out insulin a person will only live 2 years, if they are “lucky.” Today I understand that just a little bit.

I am so glad I live today where I can have my health taken care of so well. I’ve been diabetic 10 years as of this year. Praise God!

On a lighter note. David and I have been legally married for 6 years now (and two week and two days).

A photo from our “First Wedding”


Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

October 01, 2009

Health Care Reflux

The surprising response that my previous post on health care received (including a response post by my brother on his blog), as well as the recent finalization of our current health insurance situation, has led me to write a second post on the topic. Yes, I will eventually write about my new job. But not yet…stay tuned.

Jon divided his comments into four points. For ease of comparison, I will attempt to respond to each in turn.

1) What about communal responsibility and character? …[P]eople…argue that having the government help deprives us of motivation to help our neighbor, but is that a problem with the system or with us as Christians? I agree there is a communal responsibility. The problem to me is not that government help deprives us of motivation, but that it actually makes it harder for us to act righteously. For instance, imagine that a government plan took 15% of everybody’s income to pay for universal health care. Great. But that has then also deprived me of 15% of my income which I could have voluntarily—and perhaps should have—given to those in need. I realize that most people won’t. But forcing people to give only helps the recipient. Giving ought to help both the recipient (materially) and the giver (spiritually).

That said, I attempted to make it clear that I’m not against government help. I do, however, insist that the government does it in such a way that strengthens our own sense of responsibility and character—both individually and communally—rather than stifles them.

2) Which sounds like a good thing—preventative care instead of purely reactive care. Of course preventative care is good. I agree that this should be available as possible, preferably with lower prices for everyone. Again, government involvement is probably a necessary evil. Encouraging reliable on Uncle Sam rather than personal and communal responsibility, however, is not acceptable.

3) It’s hard to know what’s really true sometimes with different health care systems. I completely agree. It is extremely difficult to compare health care systems in terms of results. Hence, I don’t bother. Besides, that’s a very utilitarian approach, which, while useful sometimes, is no arbiter of ultimate Truth. Thus, I try my best to compare systems and philosophies from their philosophical underpinnings and outworkings. This is also my response to point 4.

Further comments and critique are more than welcome, especially from those who disagree! (There seems to be a disappointing preaching to the choir aspect to this blog.)

Ah, yes. You’ve probably been waiting for the story about our current health care situation. The government plan that we thought we could get Rita in on called two days ago and said that we filled out the wrong form, despite that I had filled out the form that they recommended and that the form that they now requested did not apply to us, as it required 6 months of North Dakota residency.

It turns out that, after I had rejected the ludicrously expensive continuation plan from student health insurance (think minimum cost), we had no options to purchase health insurance for Rita on our own dime. Something is definitely broken.

Fortunately, my work’s health insurance began today. God has provided for us despite what man may do. Perhaps that’s really what we all need to keep in mind.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

September 24, 2009

Health Care

So, in the states, there has been a lot of talk about health insurance and all of the possible health care plans. I’m afraid I’ve not kept up with them hardly at all, nor do I have any expert knowledge in the subject. I do, however, have a few thoughts and reflections based off of our recent experience that I think our applicable. No answers, I’m afraid, but some points for discussion.

First, I should share some of our experiences. I finished my Master’s degree this past May, and we had student health insurance during this time. It was great. The challenge came when it expired mid-August, and my new job’s insurance didn’t start until after I was employed for a month, at the end of October. Hence, we’d have a month and a half without insurance: a situation I wanted to avoid if at all possible. Comprehensive coverage didn’t matter, all I wanted was some sort of catastrophic major medical insurance.

This was surprisingly hard to find, especially since I was looking at rather the last minute. (I was hired at the beginning of August, after all.) It turned out that trying to find insurance while we were in Ithaca presented us with only two options. Two? One would expect that, like car insurance, one could choose from a variety of providers. But we could only choose from two. The situation is even worse here in North Dakota: Blue Cross Blue Shield provides somewhere around 90% of health insurance in the state.

To compound the issue, Rita’s diabetes disqualified her from many plans. Even though she keeps awful good care of herself, the insurance companies view it as equivalent to something like HIV. To some degree, I understand: diabetic supplies are a constant expense. But I’m okay paying for constant expenses, it’s the unexpected gargantuan expenses that I want insurance to cover me for.

Nonetheless, I attempted in mid-August to apply for a month and a half of health insurance while we were in Ithaca. I had three options:

  1. GHI sold a catastrophic-style plan, but only had plans that began on the first of the month. That wasn’t helpful when we were looking for coverage nearly immediately. Besides, we particularly wanted coverage while we were traveling.
  2. Blue Cross/Excellus had a plan, but insisted on getting the paperwork done via snail mail. Again, the time frame just wasn’t going to work out.
  3. HealthNY is a state-sponsored program for low-income folks, but would not cover out-of-state services and, again, wouldn’t start until the beginning of the month. Not only that, but, being a able-bodied individual, I’d rather save tax dollars for those who actually have a real need. Why should I take from the poor?

I didn’t think this would be difficult! And it took many, many hours on the phone and researching trying to figure this out.

In the end, we were able to apply with Blue Cross Blue Shield in North Dakota. We thought everything went swimmingly. Until, last week, I received the cards indicating my acceptance…but nothing for Rita.

What happened?

I called, and found out that, indeed, she was rejected for medical reasons. Our only recourse was to apply for a state-sponsored plan. We’re still waiting to find out if that works—and, frankly, seeing as my work insurance starts in a week, I don’t care much any more.

This system is definitely broken.

I have a few thoughts about what could improve.

  1. Why isn’t this just insurance? Health insurance is an odd beast. It has come to function much less as insurance—i.e. financial help in times of extreme need—and much more of a discount plan, with copays and the like. This functions not only to complicate the insurance, but also to make qualifying that much more difficult.
  2. Denied? I suppose one could be rejected for car insurance, but it certainly doesn’t happen often. Why? High-risk applicants are simply charged more. I don’t see why this would be a bad model for health insurance.
  3. Complications. I have a Master’s degree in engineering, for crying out loud. I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I can usually figure most things out eventually. But health insurance? I spent on the order of two full days trying to find out what options we have. That’s completely crazy, and was only possible because I was unemployed at the time.
  4. Competition. I add this with a bit of hesitation. I certainly think that given more companies offering insurance in either New York or North Dakota, we would have had a simpler time. I realize that competition isn’t a panacea to all problems, but different companies focusing on different markets would have been very valuable in this instance.

Those of you paying attention to the current health-care discussions in the United States right now notice one thing that I didn’t put on the list: universal health care. I have what I think is a good reason for that, though it’s perhaps not what you expect.

I should be forthright: I do tend to favor as little government as possible. But that’s honestly not my primary concern.

My concern is one for the character of people. One thesaurus lists synonyms such as integrity, honor, moral strength, uprightness, fortitude, strength, backbone, and resolve. In my mind, these are some of the most important qualities to nurture in people. (Perhaps the most important qualities, if you attempt to be a secular society.) Character, however, is built not out of having others take care of you, but rather learning how to take care of you and yours through sometimes difficult situations. It isn’t easy, but—as with many difficult things—it is worth it in the end.

Thus, it seems to me that having equal health care available to all demotes rather than promotes the character of our people.

Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I want health care to be cheaper—definitely. I want it to be more available to more people. I don’t want to worry about health care any more than you do. But I want to have a good character—and want people around me to have a good character—even more. And I believe that a strong sense of personal responsibility and a minimized reliance on “someone else” to take care of us is vital for this.

I think this is what I would propose, in addition to the points I raised before:

Despite my dislike of government intervention, why don’t we simply have the government pay for the large capital costs of health care, such as hospitals and equipment and research. This could be completely government sponsored, similar to our roads. Then, paying for doctor’s visits and other care could be done directly out-of-pocket at a much reduced cost. Is it enough? I have no idea. But it preserves the mental model of “I am responsible of providing for me and mine; I need to be a mature person of character.” rather than “Why doesn’t the world take care of me?”

Responsibility. Character. Integrity. A nation built on these will assuredly outlast a physically healthy nation who is morally bereft.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Public Policy]

September 15, 2009

How We are Today

Since we just moved, I am sure you would like to hear more about how we are doing now that we are in West Fargo, instead of seeing photos from weeks ago, as nice as they are. So, here is a little post to share how we are doing today.


You have seen the photos of our apartment, and if you haven’t check about 5 posts back. I still love it here. I am amazed at how much God has provided for us in this apartment. I love the space. We have: room and light for plants, our books almost all on one wall, ‘office’ space for both our desks, a kitchen with room for the table in the same area, a guest room that will fit guests, and a bed room where we are not tripping over each other!

We are also just a bike ride away from the grocery store, hardware store, library, department stores, pet store. Everything we need is close enough that it’s ok if David takes the car to work and I need to get some food. It is great!


David is enjoying his work. His only frustration is that he doesn’t know everything yet. That he is still learning and not being as productive as he wishes.

My perspective of David’s work: he is so much more relaxed!! After being married for 5 years and having him come home stressed so often, it is so nice that he comes home tired, but not stressed. Such a difference!

He enjoys going to work and enjoys the people that he works with. God is so good!

My work. I started carving again last week. Slowly. I’ve been on a break since May because of trouble with my thumb. The trouble hasn’t gone away, so I will take is more slowly but keep carving.

I’ve also been balancing my carving time with keeping the apartment nice. By the time we left the trailer in NY it was always a mess. Even when I cleaned it was still a mess. I hope to keep on top of it better now that we are starting over.


David did a bit of church research on the internet before we came to Fargo, and while he was here for his interview he visited the top churches on his list.

For the past two weeks we have been attending Bethel Evangelical Free Church and we really like it. This past Sunday we joined a Sunday school and we really look forward to getting to know the others in the class.

David has left the past two weeks almost overwhelmed with peace and gladness for the work he sees God doing in this church. We are really glad we can be apart of it.

We hope to join a Growth Group soon. I will be going to the Ladies Bible study on Thursday morning and David hopes to join the orchestra tomorrow night.


I am still on the hunt for a dog, but because I will be taking a road trip to Montana in a few weeks, we are waiting until I get back to do serious hunting.

God is so good. We have hit a few snags of course. The apartment is heavy with stale smoke smells that give me a headache, as well as the smoke the comes in the window from the neighbours. I have been a bit needy here and there, but all in all, it is very good to be here. God is So good to us, we are glad to be here!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 14, 2009

More Photos

I thought you might enjoy seeing a few more photos of our trip to NB and PEI. If not, I am enjoying looking at them, so I’ll share them anyway. Most of them are taken by my sisters, who are the better photographers by far!

Grammie and Me

As always, when we make it out to New Brunswick, I take time to see Grammie. The two years before David and I were married, and the 5 months we were in Canada after we were married we became quite close to Grammie. I miss her a lot and am glad whenever we can visit. David and I took Saturday afternoon to spend with her. It was a nice relaxing afternoon, after driving 15 hours to get there!

Debbie and Lincoln

Debbie and Lincoln enjoying the beach.

Canada Games

The Canada Games were being held on PEI while we were there. Some of the family went to enjoy a few games. Including watching the New Brunswick girl basketball.


More from Siblings Night out. The Brothers at the harbour.


Sisters at the Harbour.

Mc Donald's

While we had the Siblings night out, Opa and Oma took the grand kids to Mc Donald’s for supper.

Keturah as Anne

Keturah as Anne. Ah yes, the tempting hat and braids! Who doesn’t enjoying seeing how pretty of and Anne they would make?

Pizza in the Jail house

Pizza at the old jail house.

North Shore

One day Dad, Julia, Richard, David and I took a drive to the North Point to see the wind mills and the light houses. Now I have been to both ends of the Island. I went to East Point in 2000 with two of my girlfriends.

North Point Rock

North Point Rock.

David's Game face

David’s Game face. Sorry if you can’t see it well, it’s quite the face.

Roller Coaster

We were the only 4 who wanted to go on the Roller Coaster. Here we wait patiently for our turn.

Going Down

The ride down! Yes, being good roller coaster girls, we made use of our lungs and loved every minute of it!

Bumper Boats Another Bumper boat photo, with the park in the back ground.

Rita's Bathroom

Rita is a rare name to find on anything personalized. It was great to see that Cora (the breakfast restaurant) had a bathroom just for me!


One more of the family. I like this one because we are not yet all posed. A little mixed up, just like us.

Nova Scotia

David and I took two nephews and a dog back to New Brunswick with us, while part of the family went to the Anne of Green Gables play. While we were on the way, we thought we’d jump down to Nova Scotia, because we could.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 07, 2009

PEI Trip

This year marks my Mom’s 60th birthday, and when Dad asked her how she wanted to celebrate, she said she wanted the family to be together for a full week. So to Prince Edward Island we went!

Family 3

It was a great week. Rather chaotic with 6 kids 8 years old and younger, and a young puppy, but so good too.

Here are some photos to give you a glimpse of the week.

Heading out

Heading Out

Preparing food

Preparing Food

Lincoln and Molly

Lincoln and Molly

Ocean Play

Ocean Play!! (Every day!)

Siblings Night Out

Siblings Night Out

Siblings Night Out 2

Siblings Night Out 3

Me and my siblings.

Breakfast at Cora's

Breakfast at Cora’s, our first time! It was Delicious!


Go-Karting at SandSpit

passing me

David passing me… Not surprised, I was a little nervous.

Bumper Boats

Bumper Boats!

David and Sisters

David and his sisters-in-law.

Ladies Day Out

Result of Ladies day out.

Beach Walk

Beach Walking


Dick VanOord Family

Family 2

Thanks Mom and Dad! It was a GREAT week. We Love you!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 06, 2009

Moving in:

So, what to say about our move to Fargo? It has been amazing how much God has been working in us, especially me. I can’t even say that God has given me peace about this move, because it’s been more than that. It’s been a “Rightness” to it. So much so that I have been eager to get going. Ithaca has been great, but it was time to move, and because it was time to move, I just wanted to get going.

Fargo is just an hour away from David’s parents. Just about the right distance to finally settle for a while, instead of moving every two years. I am so glad to be able to settle. I am tired of moving, and so is David.

We had a bit of a frustrating mix-up in trying to get an apartment in order. Long story short, after expressing a money order to reserve an apartment, and calling most days on our vacation, we came back to Ithaca only to find out that they rented the apartment from under us. Yes, frustrating, but a God thing. We called the next apartment on our list and the doors opened up wide. Within a half day (verses the week and a half of trying to work things out with the other apartment) we had our apartment reserved and paperwork done. So glad!

Now that we are here, I think I understand why God didn’t let the other apartment work out. I can’t tell you how pleased I am with our new home! And I can call it home so quickly too! There is room here! There is a great little park for kids, and a fenced in area for dogs to play. The rooms are roomy and allow room for us to grow with out feeling squeezed. Enough room “to swing the cat” or dog, as we hope to have some day soon.

The apartments are private entry, which makes the groups of apartments feel a lot more like a community. There are no hallways to sneak down, but coming and going in view of everyone. The kids play together all over the place. I can some people would find it annoying, but I like it a lot. It makes me so happy to see them!

Speaking of hallways, the little one we do have here is wide enough that I’m not constantly running into walls and door jams. It is great!

We have a great sized guest room, and if you give me another week, I hope it will be set up for company, so if you are in the West Fargo area and need a place to stay, look us up!

In Christ,


PS note: The above what written two days ago, I wanted to add another delight before posting.

One of my most favorite things in the world is biking in Holland (yes, the Netherlands). It is so flat there that you can bike for hours and still feel great! At least that has been my experience. Well guess what? Fargo is as flat as Holland! Minus the dikes even.

Yesterday David cleaned up my bike real nicely and we went for a ride to Walmart. It was so enjoyable that I begged David for another short ride tonight. Imagine that! Me, begging to bike! Me, who would rather walk my bike in Sioux Center, Iowa because the small rolling hills were too much for me. Me, who has a really great bike and didn’t touch it once while in Ithaca! (Those hills looked nasty!) I am begging David to bike with me and I love it! (Thank you God for many blessings!)

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

September 04, 2009

A New Home!

Hello to you all! In case you were wondering what has happened with David’s job hunt. Well, he found a company in Moorhead, Minnesota and pursued a job with them. They liked him well enough that he is at work already as of this past Monday!

David and I are now living in West Fargo, North Dakota. It has been such a CRAZY past month and a half. First with David trying to find a job, then waiting to see if he would get the job, then the mad rush to pack up our belongings before a week with my family on Prince Edward Island for my mom’s birthday. Then, 4 days to finish the packing and load the truck .

We moved last weekend and I have been busy setting up home while David has been getting to know his new job. It has been going well!

Here are a few photos of our new apartment. I LOVE it! I can’t say enough about how Good God is and how he is providing for us in ways we never realized! Wonderful!

Wall of Books!

Wall of Books that I love so much!

Living Room

Living room with office space.


Oh so roomy Kitchen!

Dinning Area

Dinning Area in the kitchen that makes the kitchen much bigger.

Future Guest Room

Future guest room, work room and current storage room.


Roomy Bathroom




Rest of Bedroom, with room to spare!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

July 13, 2009


So I have successfully and completely finished my Master’s degree. Hurrah! Now what?

Job-hunting, that’s what. It’s pretty much a full-time job, along with trying to reorganize my life after the craziness of finishing grad school. If you, or anyone you know, knows of a job that might be a good fit for me, feel free to peruse my résumé and send me an email.

I’m primarily looking for software development jobs, but I’m open to a lot of options. My degrees are in mechanical engineering (particularly robotics while I was at Cornell), and I also open to considering positions in teaching or Christian ministry.

Perhaps I’ll get around to a proper blog post one of these days, too!

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / David / Culture]

June 20, 2009

Josiah and Adam’s Wedding

Now that we are home, and can take time to think and breathe, I thought I would back track and post of few photos of Josiah’s wedding, and give a little more detail from our side of it.

David and I arrived on Friday afternoon, the 22nd of May. We (we being Kelly Ram, Melanie Tvete and myself) had jut enough time to talk with Josiah about the dress she was going to wear. LONG story, the dress she wanted to wear was a mess! We decided that we would go with it anyway, and Kelly would do a lot of sewing the next day to fix it up. Then we headed off to the rehearsal.

disorder Disorganization. Who goes where when?

rehersal Rehearsal

Saturday was spent fixing the dress, packing up Josiah’s belongings, making sure everyone ate, and cleaning up any messes we made. Not only did Josiah need a dress ready for the wedding, she also needed to be moved out of the house so her Dad could move in the next week (she was living at their place until their other place was sold)

Then Saturday night there was a party so Josiah and Adam could spend time hanging out with friends who came for the wedding.

David and Adam David talking with Adam

Blanket Adam and Josiah playing with the blanket Kelly gave them as a gift.

blanket 2 They really do like it.

Spoons They also liked the spoons we gave them!

Sunday, Wedding Day. Last minute preparations. One last fix on the dress, and then a re-fixing after Kelly sewed it shut… oops. A little Church service and some breakfast. helping the bride get ready. A whirl-wind of activity!

flowers I’m putting the last touches on Josiah, her crown of flowers.

ceremony The ceremony!!

kiss The sealing Kiss

last one for the road One last photo before we left.

On the way home, after already taking a wrong turn, I realized I left my fruit bowl and wood spoon at the reception! Sigh, we turned around to get it, but everything was cleaned up and locked up by that time. So Josiah, if someone picked it up for me, could you hold it until we visit next time? Thanks :)

Then, we went home, getting home by midnight, or there abouts.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

June 16, 2009

The Past Few Weeks

So much has happened in the past few weeks that I thought the easiest way to catch up is to give you a photo time line of it. (At least if I have appropriate photos)

May 14-16, 2009 - I mark 10 years of being diabetic.

Hospital Stay (The only photo of me in the hospital)

May 22, 2009 - David and Rita’s 5th Wedding Anniversary! We spent All day together, even though it was in the car on the way to Josiah and Adam’s wedding in Ohio…

Wedding Photo

May 24, 2009 - Josiah and Adam’s wedding! A crazy weekend, as mentioned previously, but so good to be a part of it!

Josiah and Adam

May 26, 2009 - David has his Master’s Defense. I was able to go and enjoyed seeing him present the work he has been doing over the past 2 years. He passed!


May 29, 2009 - My Mom’s 60th Birthday (to be celebrated in August). David and I repack our car with camping gear and luggage and head start for Minnesota. We get as far as my sister’s in Ontario for the night.

Mom (Photo from Dad’s 60th Birthday last year)

May 30, 2009 - Drive from Ontario to the end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. A beautiful quite drive! Except the rain and hail we had briefly before reaching the UP.

May 31, 2009 - Arrive to MN. Visit with David’s parents and brother, who is also visiting MN for the weekend.

Jon, Dad, and David (Photo from Christmas)

June 1, 2009 - David and I drove Jon to the Airport in Minneapolis and visit John and Heather while we were there. David was sick on the way home. Not much fun.

John and Heather (Rather old photo of John and Heater for kicks)

June 4, 2009 - Rested from being sick. Mom Hjelle and I worked on turning a favorite, but worn out, pair of jeans into a nice skirt.

June 5, 2009 - I had a coffee date with My Dear Deborah! She is a woman who I have been e-mailing for the past 6 months and she has been such an encouragement to me. It was wonderful meeting her in person! (Deborah, you are great! Thank you for a wonderful 2 hours, I came home floating!) After supper David and I headed to the Spoon Carver’s Gather in Milan, MN.

Deborah and Me (Deborah and Myself, and the skirt Mom Hjelle and I made)

June 6, 2009 - The Spoon Carver’s Gathering in Milan, MN. My reason for begging for a trip to MN. A fantastic day of talking with other spoon carvers. I hope to write more about it later.

Rita at Spoon Carver's Gathering

June 10, 2009 - A quick whirl wind of a trip to Sioux Center to visit Arie and a few friends. I visited with the Los’ and David with the Super.

Arie and Rita (Arie)

Rita and Cherie (Cherie)

June 11, 2009 - David, his parents and I made a trip to Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the Mississippi. We stayed in a hostel together overnight.

Mississippi Headwaters


June 12, 2009 - David and I drove the North Shore (of Lake Superior) all the way to Thunder Bay. Stopping a few times on the way.

David by Lake Superior

June 13, 2009 - After stopping at the Farmer’s Market, we drove from Thunder Bay to Sault St. Marie. one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever driven. Our campsite was nicely located right by the beach.

On the way

Camp Site

Jume 14, 2009 - Drove from Sault St. Marie to my sister’s house.

Now we are home again, June 15, 2009. It was a wonderful trip, a crazy few weeks but good.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

May 26, 2009

Today is the Day!

David is defending his Master’s at 10:00 this morning.

If you would like to hear about our weekend, my friend Kelly wrote a good blip about it on her blog, from her perspective.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

March 26, 2009

Another day…

This week I think David and I are feeling a bit of back-lash from last weeks emotional stress. We are exhausted! But otherwise, we are doing well.

David is struggling with his robot that is refusing to work like it is supposed to. It has been rather discouraging for him. He was able to talk about it, and other things, with a guy friend of ours this week and was encouraged. I am so glad for that! Still, the robot isn’t working…

I spent most of today cutting wood. I received pieces of an apple tree from a friend at church and it has been cluttering the outside of the trailer for the past two weeks. Today I used the band saw to cut up most of the branches into spoon shapes and sizes.

Because the wood is still green (or wet, ie., not dry like at the lumber yard) and I want to keep it wet so it doesn’t crack, half of our freezer is now full of wood. Doesn’t that make for a nice conversation in the grocery store. “Rita, why can’t we buy ice cream this week?” “Sorry David, the freezer is full of wood and there is no room right now.”

It’s a good thing I’m finally cleaning the wood from the front step, David and I went to the Cornell orchards yesterday to get more… It is currently sitting in the back of the car waiting to be unloaded.

That is out life as of today. As for the future: We are hoping to hear back from the Navigators soon, so we can better know where we might be next year; I hope to do a little gardening this spring again; David hopes to finish his robot well and defend his Masters on May 21st; I’m hoping to finish painting the trailer soon, now that it is warm out again and we almost want windows open; and I’ve been going bird watching on the weekends and enjoying it!

We hope you are well! in Christ,


Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

February 27, 2009

Weddings, Anniversaries, Vacations, and Retreats

Is it the end of February already?! The past two months have just flown by in some ways, and have been painfully slow in other ways. If you would like to see Christmas photos, be sure to check under “Highlights of 2008” under the Photos on the left.

Since getting back from David’s parents’ I have been very excited about carving again. I’ve thrown myself back into it with full energy. I’ve completed over 15 spoons, and have many others started and waiting.

David has been working hard with his robot. This semester he has someone that is working with him on it and he has been enjoying it so much more.

Together we have been looking and thinking about what is happening after David’s schooling is finished. His defense is on May 21. There have been many ideas floating around.

Since Christmas we have also done a bit more traveling. I went to New Brunswick to visit family, especially to visit with Grammie.

Grammie and Me

I am glad that I am closer to my family. I get to visit with siblings in Ontario quite frequently, but visiting Grammie hasn’t happened as often as I like. I was able to see her a little every day while I was home.

Then Dad, Mom, Julia and I drove out to Ontario to help Liz and Kev celebrate their 12 1/2 wedding anniversary! What a great party!

vander Wier Family

Us ladies also got our toes painted up for the party.

painted toes

Really, it was because Elizabeth, Kev, Julia, and Debbie were going to Cuba the next day for a week’s vacation together.


I heard them leave to catch their flight Sunday afternoon but was too sick in bed to even see them off. That was the sickest I’ve been since becoming diabetic. I don’t remember the last time I couldn’t hold anything down at all. It was NOT fun, but David was the best ever and took very good care of me!

Two weeks later he flew to Minneapolis to attend Jenna’s wedding.

Jenna's wedding

I was sad I couldn’t make it too. David was supposed to spend an afternoon with his parents on Friday while he was there, but because of flight trouble he didn’t get in until late evening. He was able to visit with quite a few friends though.

The past weekend I went to our church’s Women’s Retreat and had a wonderful time! This is my second year going and I enjoyed it even more than last year, simply because I knew the women a little better.

I was especially glad to meet and talk with my roommate. She is a woman I’ve noticed in church before and thought I’d really like to get to know her, but I’ve had no reason to introduce myself. Now that I have met her, I know better WHY I wanted to meet her. She is fascinating to me and knows so many things I’ve been thinking about learning myself lately. I can’t wait to get to know her, and a number other of the women, better. If you would like to meet her, she has a blog called abstractions.

Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

January 01, 2009

Birthday Photos

I had wanted to share some photos from my birthday and Thanksgiving but our photo program went wacky and I was in danger of loosing all my photos on the web page if I posted another blog. I think I got it figured out and am able to add a few more.

Before I go on: HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! (And Merry Christmas!)

Our Thanksgiving was very enjoyable. Josiah and her boyfriend, Adam, came to visit us for the Holiday and we had a wonderful time together. We made our first turkey dinner and enjoyed it to the fullest!

Thanksgiving Dinner

We mostly spent the days relaxing or cooking, but we did take in a few of the Ithaca sights.

Cornell Campus

Cornell Campus

Bebee lake

Bebee Lake

Ithaca Falls

Ithaca Falls

Adam and Josiah

Adam and Josiah

They were even here for my birthday, which was on Saturday after Thanksgiving. We enjoyed a leisurely day with food and gifts (for me!) and fellowship.

Open Gifts

Opening Gifts

Opening Gifts

Love my hat!

Fondu Dinner

Fondu Supper

Krumkake Dessert

Krumkake Dessert

It was a really nice weekend. The best part, for David and myself, is when Josiah and Adam came back on Sunday after church because the brakes on the car went out. They weren’t very far from Ithaca when they found this out. We are glad they came back! David enjoyed helping Adam work on the car, and the extra social time.

Be sure to check out the photos in “Highlights on 2008” I finally added more photos!

I hope you all are doing well!

In Christ,


Comment~ permanent link ~ • Category: [News / Rita]

© 2005-2007 David and Rita Hjelle