Aase Family Holiday Greetings 2015

As Lisa and I finished our Lord of the Rings marathon with our youngest son John this New Year’s morning, we looked back with gratitude for the Lord’s many blessings on our family in the past year.

We’re particularly thankful that in this last week we had all of our descendants together to celebrate Christmas, and so I waited to do this retrospective until I could include photos from our Monday-afternoon family photo shoot. (Thanks Photos by Joe!) Here’s the whole Gang of 17:

Snowy photo

Our oldest daughter, Rachel, will celebrate her 30th birthday in two weeks, validating Gretchen Rubin’s observation, “The days are long but the years are short.” Rachel and her husband, Kyle Borg, are currently experiencing the first part of Rubin’s formulation, as their fifth child, Sylvia, arrived Oct. 15. What a great bunch they have:

Borg children

Kyle continues to serve as pastor of Winchester Reformed Presbyterian Church in Winchester, Kansas. The kids (Evelyn, Judah, Aletta, Mabel and Sylvia) have an idyllic life in this town of 500 which is about an hour from Kansas City. Lots of room to run and play, and a close-knit church family. We wish they lived nearer to us, but we’re thankful for FaceTime enabling us stay connected.

Our son Jacob and his wife Alexi live in New Berlin, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee), where Jacob works as a Physical Therapist at Froedert Hospital. They now have two sons, with Isaac Lee Aase joining the family on March 15. Big brother Graham, who just turned two, is a fully certified Minnesota sports fan:

Graham TwinsGraham Vikings

Jake and Family

Our middle daughters, Rebekah and Ruth, still live in St. Paul where they work as float pool nurses at Bethesda Hospital. They both appreciate the variety of assignments, and that they earn the same at 0.6 FTE as they formerly made in 0.9 FTE nursing home jobs, but that they frequently can pick up extra shifts.

They live within a few miles of the airport (MSP), so I had a few opportunities this year to stay with them before flights, or even to get together during a layover. And because they have some schedule flexibility, I was able to take them on one of my trips this year, to Boston, where we took a little extra time to hike the Freedom Trail…

Freedom Trail

… and to take a drive to Kennebunkport, Maine:

Coast of Maine

Joe is still at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he’s a member of the basketball team. Last season the Mavericks made the NCAA Division II tournament, and they’re currently 9-2 and ranked 25th in the country. Joe is planning to go to law school after graduation, and is thankful that because of basketball he’ll start that part of his education debt-free.

John is a high school junior attending Riverland Community College full-time through the Post-Secondary Education Options (PSEO) program. His four eldest siblings graduated high school with their AA degrees thanks to PSEO, and John plans to follow suit. He also is working part-time at the new Hardee’s just down the street.

Joe is on the left, and John on the right, in this photo of the Aase men…

Lee and Boys

…and here is Lisa with our young ladies:

Lisa and Girls

We’re also blessed with a wonderful church family at Trinity Presbyterian in Rochester, where I’m an elder and Lisa teaches Sunday School.

Lisa and Joe (with some help from John) spent a good part of the summer giving Old Main a new paint job and completing other exterior upgrades. It was a LOT of work, and it shows up nicely in this version of our family photo:

Wide Porch Aase Clan

Lisa hit another milestone this year, with John starting school at the community college: after 23 years of homeschooling, she is officially retired! She appreciates the freedom this gives her; when Sylvia was born she was able to go to Kansas for 9 days to help Rachel with the adjustments.

This has been a memorable year for me professionally, too. Highlights in our Mayo Clinic social media program include:

Here are some other Facebook photos and memories from 2015.

We have many hopes and plans for 2016, and we know there will be some surprises, too. From our family to yours, we wish you a blessed New Year!

NIghtime photo

P.S. To go further back in our Aase family memories and see how we’ve changed in the last nine years, check out these year-end posts from 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. 2013 was a pretty busy year in which I was occupied with this site, so I failed on the Christmas letter.

A PDA for My BFF and Holiday Greetings for You

Wedding pictureOn December 22, 1984 at 11 a.m. I stood at the front of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New Richland, Minnesota with a lump in my throat as the most beautiful vision I can imagine walked down the aisle on the arm of my soon-to-be Father-in-Law.

On that day, I married my best friend, and for three decades the Lord has blessed us with a wonderful life together. As we heard on our Wedding Day, He told our first parents, Adam and Eve, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. Since then, Lisa and I have done our part to fulfill that cultural mandate.

Here’s what we have to show for it, in the first generation:

Jacob, John, Joseph, Rebekah, Ruth and Rachel
(Clockwise from lower left) Jacob, John, Joseph, Rebekah, Ruth and Rachel

…and the second:

Graham, Evelyn, Mabel, Aletta and Judah
Graham, Evelyn, Mabel, Aletta and Judah

Our first 29 years together were wonderful, and this year the blessings have continued:

Rachel and her husband Kyle, a Presyterian pastor, are happily married and living with their four children (the ones on the right in the photo above) in Winchester, Kansas. They were in Grand Rapids, Michigan for several years while Kyle was in seminary, and it’s great that now it’s only a six-hour drive for us to get together.

Jacob completed school and passed his boards, and is now working as a Physical Therapist in Milwaukee. As a Gophers/Vikings/Timberworlves/Wild fan he is adjusting to his exile  among the Cheeseheads, but he and Alexi are doing well. Their son Graham (at left) had his first birthday on Halloween, and they’re expecting a second son in March.

Rebekah and Ruth will possibly resent being in the same paragraph (we’re individuals, you know, Dad!), but it’s hard to their stories separately. Both finished their BSN degrees at the end of September. They’re living in a house in St. Paul with one of their best friends from high school. And they’re working as nurses in the same nursing home, and are involved as member of City Life church.

Joe transferred from Davidson College at the end of his Freshman year and is now at Minnesota State University, Mankato where he is playing basketball. We’re delighted to have him so close to home. We celebrated our family Christmas last week, and he was able to drive back and forth for practice every day. He enjoyed his Davidson experience, and last year we got to attend about a dozen games. This year they’ll all be a lot closer, and we’ll get to most of them.

John is a sophomore in high school, in his last year at Aase Academy. Next year he will be going to Riverland Community College (as his four oldest siblings did), and Lisa will have completed her 23rd year of homeschooling. John is in the Austin High School Symphony Orchestra and Bible Bowl, and enjoys being in Youth Group at our church, Trinity Presbyterian in Rochester.

Lee and LisaLisa and I enjoyed some getaways and got a lot more familiar with North Carolina last winter (combining with some work-related travel) as we attended some of Joe’s games. We’re both involved at church, where I’m and Elder and Lisa teaches Sunday School and manages the book ministry. My work at Mayo Clinic in social media has remained interesting and challenging (in a good way), and led to my first trip to Alaska and also a chance to go to Dubai as part of my service on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Social Media. That was unforgettable.

As you can see, our appearance has changed a bit over the years. Our deep affection and commitment haven’t.

We look forward to another year of fruitful work, Lord willing, and wish you and yours the best of everything in 2015.

Christmas in January

Since I began blogging in 2006, this blog has become the vehicle for my annual family Christmas letter (See the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions.) The advantages have been numerous, including the ability to add color images and video and no need to pay for postal service distribution. Sometimes I’ve even completed it during Thanksgiving.

This is the first time I’ve needed to push it significantly into the New Year, and with some good reasons beyond procrastination. With so much of our family (including grandchildren) home for Christmas, it seemed odd to consider doing this post until I could get updated photos and video featuring them. And once our grandchildren arrived the day after Christmas, it would have been odd to take time away from being with them to be writing about them. After all, they live in Michigan and we don’t get as much in-person time with them as we’d like.

Here’s a picture of me with grandson Judah and his sister Evelyn during one of our family Christmas gatherings, as we Skyped with my daughter Ruthie who was in Vienna (more on that in a bit):

Lee Judah Evie

Then the flu hit, and what had been planned as a 6-7 day visit from the Borgs stretched to two full weeks. It was nice having them here that long, although we would have preferred healthier circumstances.

So…somewhat belatedly…here is our Aase family 2012 update.

Our oldest daughter Rachel and her husband Kyle continue to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with Evelyn, Judah and Aletta. Kyle is in his last semester of seminary and will be looking to move in May to accept a call as a pastor. They have three good options and we pray for wisdom as they try to discern the best one for them.

Speaking of options, as our six kids were growing up we had a family tradition called “The Option Play.” I would pretend I was a quarterback and they were the football and would call out the signals before faking handoff and then pitching. Because I always called out the same numbers in the pre-snap count, this tradition became known as “9-87.” Until they all got too big for me, one of the favorite things I’d hear my kids say was, “Daddy, let’s do 9-87!”

During their Christmas visit I got to continue the tradition with a new generation:

Our oldest son Jacob lives with his wife Alexi in LaCrosse, Wisconsin where he is in the second year of the Physical Therapy program. He got to do an internship in Rochester during August, so it was nice to have him staying with us. We got to ride into work together several times, which was really special. He’ll be doing internships in the Phoenix area this Summer and in Atlanta next Fall. Alexi is working full-time while Jacob devotes himself to studies. He’s halfway through and should be well set for employment prospects a year from May.

Bekah Ruthie Nurses

Rebekah is in the second year of the two-year RN program at Riverland Community College in Austin. She’s also a member of the Riverland women’s basketball team, and twice has been named NJCAA Division III national player of the week. She also works part time at a local nursing home as an LPN, where Ruthie, who is now back from her seven-month stint in Bulgaria, is working as an RN. It was fun one day recently when I got to bring them lunch at work.

Speaking of Ruthie, she arrived home on Jan. 7 from her mission trip to Bulgaria (another good reason to delay writing this post). She was there with Mission to the World, our Presbyterian Church in America world mission. It was a great experience for her made more bearable for us by Skype and other communications technology. We’re glad to have her back in the U.S.A.

Joe has had quite a year, starting with being a co-captain with our nephew Tom of the Austin High School basketball team that was the first Austin boys team to win the section title and make the state tournament since 1982. It was a fun family night to celebrate the section win together:

Section win

Joe and Tom played AAU basketball together with the Minnesota Magic Elite last Spring and Summer, traveling to Pittsburgh, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas and Milwaukee (twice) to play against some of the top teams in the country.

Joe had several college scholarship offers, and so we spent much of the Summer and Fall sorting out options. We visited Nebraska-Omaha, Winona State and Minnesota State-Mankato unofficially since they were within driving distance. Here’s a picture of Lisa as we stood in the rain in Mankato watching the Vikings (on Adrian Peterson’s first day of practice):

Lisa at MSU

We took official visits to two Division I schools, Davidson College and Boston University, in September. Jacob came with us on the Boston visit, where we got to (among other things) tour Fenway Park:

Joe Jake Fenway

It was a happy and proud day in November when Joe and Tom signed their National Letters of Intent to accept scholarship offers: Joe to attend Davidson and Tom to go to Division II University of Sioux Falls.

Joe Tom Signing

Joe and Tom were glad to get the college decisions out of the way before their senior season, and it’s been a great year so far. The Packers are 15-0 and currently ranked #2 in the state in Class AAA. We’re hoping for a return trip to Minneapolis for the state tournament in March. Follow the Packers on Twitter, Facebook or on the blog.

John, our youngest, is 14 and in eighth grade. He’s home schooled but is in the middle school orchestra, and also participates in Bible Bowl. Lisa’s home schooling is definitely much simpler now with only John among her students. With Joe’s high school and AAU basketball finishing in March, we will be able to focus more on John’s pursuits. Here’s John with his brothers engrossed in a computer game at Christmas:

John and brothers

As a family, we’re glad to be members of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Rochester, where I am an elder. The congregation has been a great blessing to us, and we’re looking forward to completion of our new church facility, likely in May. The construction is proceeding nicely:

Church Building

My work also has been going well at Mayo Clinic, where I am the director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. It’s been great having Dr. Farris Timimi as our medical director, and we have a fantastic team. Between our Social Media Summit in October in Rochester, our New York City event in May and many other travels, it’s been gratifying to meet so many people interested in using social media to make health care better.

Only God knows what we have in store for 2013, but it’s likely our house will be a lot quieter this time next year, with Joe going to Davidson and Rebekah and Ruth possibly moving to the Twin Cities. Rachel, Kyle and the kids will likely either be in Kansas or Indiana, and Jacob and Alexi will be far away for his internships.

So as we anticipate lots of changes in the coming year, Lisa and I wish you and yours many blessings in 2013.

Christmas Eve Reflections on 2010

It’s 6:30 on Christmas Eve morning as I begin writing this. Why am up early on my first of five days off from work? Because my youngest daughter, Ruthie, needed to get to her nursing assistant job at 7, and we had to get a car free from six inches of new-fallen snow. Part of the record cumulative snowfall for December here in southern Minnesota, and further evidence for global warming.

But then again, isn’t everything?

So, as I sip coffee and wait for the snowfall to taper off so I can fire up my newly acquired snowblower (good year to get it, huh?), it’s time to reflect on – and give thanks for – the events of 2010.

Continue reading “Christmas Eve Reflections on 2010”

Ending the Decade with a Bang

Note: This is the Aase family’s 2009 Christmas letter, but with a special twist relating to a major milestone we’re observing today.

Lisa and I have so much for which we are thankful, as God has blessed us so amazingly. The events of 2009, some of which I will recount below, have been mind-blowing. But this also is a significant year for us as a couple, and today is a particularly momentous day, as we celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. In frequent flyer parlance (you’ll understand the reason for me using the analogy in a bit), I guess that’s the marital equivalent of “Silver Elite” status.

On December 22, 1984 we stood together in front of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in New Richland, MN, after our wedding:

Newlyweds

A quarter of a century later, she’s every bit as beautiful as she was on that bright and snowy day.

LeeLisa25yrs

We’ve been blessed not only with each other, but with six delightful children, a son-in-law and a granddaughter. And earlier this year, when we were visiting Grand Rapids, Michigan for Evelyn’s first birthday, we learned that she had a sibling on the way. Here’s how Rachel and Kyle decided to spring the news to us, using Aunt Rebekah as the foil:

We found out this month that “Thermie” is a boy, and his name will be Judah Scott. Here’s one of his first baby pictures:

Judah Scott Borg
Judah Scott Borg

In other late-breaking news, we got a call from our oldest son, Jacob, on Saturday night. He announced that he had popped the proverbial question to Alexi Iler and they are now engaged. No date has been set, but we’re looking forward to welcoming her to the family sometime next year.

Jacob and Alexi
Jacob and Alexi

Rebekah and Ruth graduated from high school and Riverland Community College this year, and moved on to continue studies at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where Rachel and Jacob had both graduated. They live in a house just off campus. The girls are planning to go into nursing, and Jacob is going back to school to become a physical therapist, and so Bekah and Jake were in the same Chemistry class this fall. That was kind of neat. And I guess Jake has been spending a fair amount of time visiting his sisters, although the fact that Alexi is one of their housemates may be a contributing factor.

We had a great trip to Indianapolis in July for the National Bible Bowl competition, as the team led by Ruth but also including Rebekah and Joe took fifth place. You can read about that trip here, here and here.

Joe went to high school this fall, so John is the only one Lisa is still home schooling. Joe is adjusting well academically, and as a 6’5” freshman is playing with the sophomore basketball team. While Bekah and Ruthie made the transition from home school to high school seem stressful, Joe requires much less maintenance. He’s a pretty easygoing guy. It probably comes in part from being the fifth of six kids.

John is our youngest (11), and earlier this month he and I developed another thing in common: he was diagnosed with celiac disease. I was diagnosed with celiac disease in March, after about 20 years of intermittent IBS-like symptoms. What got us looking in my case was iron deficiency anemia discovered when I tried to give blood. We were thankful the anemia wasn’t due to colon cancer or something else that involves internal bleeding, but it’s been an adjustment to not be able to have wheat, rye or barley products. If you want to know more about this disease, check out this celiac disease post on our Mayo Clinic News Blog that gives background and also some recent Mayo research.

Anyway, we would never have suspected celiac disease in John if I hadn’t been diagnosed, but since it’s hereditary and since he was having some intestinal symptoms, we got him tested. Joe is in the clear, but over the next few weeks we’re going to get the others screened, too.

This year has been an amazing one for me from a career perspective. It started with the launch of our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog in January and a couple of external presentations about social media during the first quarter of the year. Then in April the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran this Sunday piece about our social media work at Mayo, and I also was interviewed for this Good Morning America story about Twitter in healthcare, and things really took off.

It was earlier that month that I had discovered the now-famous video of a delightful older couple playing the piano at Mayo and embedded it within Sharing Mayo Clinic. That kicked off an interesting journey that included me getting a chance to visit and interview them in their home in Ankeny, Iowa, and also to be with them when they played their duet live in the Times Square studio on ABC’s Good Morning America program in New York. It was great to get to meet Sharon Turner, the patient who shot the video, and her daughter, Jodi Hume, who had uploaded it to YouTube, as well as the Cowans’ daughter, DeDe Shour. As I write this, the video has been seen more than 5.3 million times on YouTube.

I traveled a lot this year to spread the word about what we’re doing in social media at Mayo Clinic, and to encourage people in health care and other industries to join the fun. I got to visit Carlsbad, Orlando, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee, New York, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Idaho Falls, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Miami, Boca Raton, London, Amsterdam and Nijmegen (the Netherlands), among others. Between travel and webinars, I did 70 presentations on social media for external audiences in 2009. One of the best parts of this was getting to meet so many people in person (or as we say in social media, IRL – “in real life”) after having first made connections on Twitter, Facebook or SMUG.

Speaking of SMUG, we’ve had an interesting year here, too. It’s hard to say what our “enrollment” is since we don’t charge tuition, but we’re on the verge of 800 “SMUGgles” who have joined the SMUG group on Facebook. The posting of my 35 Social Media Theses on the 492nd anniversary of the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg was a highlight, and I hope that in 2010 we will continue to see a social media Reformation in healthcare. I have some ideas in mind for how to help drive that. Stay tuned.

As I write this, we’re enjoying having Rachel and Evelyn at “Old Main” for the week (they flew in yesterday, thanks to frequent flyer miles accumulated a couple of paragraph back), and we expect Kyle will arrive by car tomorrow. We have much to celebrate, and Lisa and I look forward to having the whole family together as we remember Jesus’ birth and also think back not only on the blessings of this year, but also a quarter century of marriage.

We expect 2010 to be quite eventful, with Judah’s arrival and Jacob’s marriage as high points. I’m also approaching my 10-year anniversary of starting work at Mayo Clinic. We hope to avoid any more serious disease diagnoses, but we’re certainly not taking our health and other blessings for granted.

This afternoon’s events provided a vivid reminder of that, as we had a near-inferno caused by Joe plopping his backpack on our kitchen table, near some candles. Here are the charred remains of the paper Joe needs to turn in at school tomorrow:

Charred papers

The backpack itself was a total loss, and as you’ll see in this video, the table isn’t doing that well either. We’re thankful it wasn’t worse, that Ruth was there to notice the problem and that Rachel was able to douse the flames (after Ruth had fanned them.)

We’re glad Old Main is still standing, and all decked out for a Christmas celebration.

OldMain

Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2010!