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”

A New Van for Bekah and Ruthie

This evening as I traveled to Winona for the #WSUPRSSA presentation on social media, I got to meet my youngest daughters and swap vehicles with them, so they would have reliable college transportation. Here’s the video I shot when they saw it for the first time. Having video also enables Lisa to get in on the fun, even though she wasn’t able to be there.

This also gives me a chance to show the WSUPRSSA group how easy it is to write a blog post.

Vacation Highlights

I was back at work today after spending the last few days in Indianapolis for Bible Bowl. We’ll be back to our regular social media coursework shortly, but here are a few reflections and memories from four days in Indy (and two days traveling there and back):

It was a joy to see our granddaughter, Evelyn, and her parents as they joined us from their home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s a picture of Evelyn after having gotten a hairdo from her mom in our hotel room:


Lisa and I were also glad to have three of our four parents and five of our six children be with us for this family getaway. We missed Lisa’s mom and our son Jake and wished they were there too, but we were thankful everyone else could make it.

Another highlight was that Joe and Bekah got to play in the National Bible Bowl 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which was held at Conseco Fieldhouse following a Sunday night WNBA game (Indiana vs. Atlanta.) Here’s some footage from the semifinal game, which they lost 15-10.

Finally, here’s the Austin Bible Bowl team photo taken after they were awarded their fifth-place medals (out of 120 teams) in the double-elimination tournament.


And here’s the story that ran in today’s Austin Post-Bulletin after an editor saw my #biblebowl09 tweets and assigned a reporter.

It was a great few days…but now it’s time to resume our regularly scheduled classes!

Bible Bowl Quoting Bee 2009

The National Bible Bowl competition, in which my kids participated over the last several days in Indiana, involves memorization of large sections of the Bible, at leas for those who want to be successful. Last year the assigned text was the Gospel of John, along with 1 John,  2 John, 3 John, 1 Peter and 2 Peter. This year the text covered six great prophets, and was taken from I Kings, 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Jonah.

A relatively recent addition to the main competition is the Quoting Bee, in which participants are given a single verse reference, and within 10 seconds must begin to quote the verse, starting at the first word and ending exactly at the last word.

It’s hard enough to memorize an extended passage; pulling a verse right out of the middle of a chapter like Jeremiah 19:3 as my daughter Ruthie does in the video below (she’s the fifth contestant) is amazing:

Here is the climactic moment of the Quoting Bee, in which Ross Smith of Towne South (North Carolina) edged Breanna Hayes of Valley View (Dallas, TX) for the top spot:

Ruthie made it through six rounds of the qualifying contest and four rounds of the finals before making a mistake. She finished in a tie for sixth place.