Blessed

Today I feel so blessed. Last night I finished my first read through of this document. It is probably the most amazing story I’ve ever read. Because it’s my story. It’s the story of those who made sacrifices and tough … Continue reading

My First Jack Bauer Moment

Since my sister’s birthday is coming up this weekend AND Jack Bauer will soon be returning to television what better post to kick off my relaunch than this one? I’ve taken a little time off but I hope to be back up and running in no time. Enjoy!!!BekandIsleeping

As children we were always finding ways to get into mischief. It’s really all my parents fault. They were the ones who encouraged my siblings and I to be overly creative farm kids. Summer vacation is when my creative genius was at its finest.

Long summer days with 4 children home all day left my mother in a state of exhaustion. As we got older “nap time” slowly morphed into “be quiet for one hour while mom regains her sanity”. During this time the kids had two options: one, we could play outside for one hour. Or two, play upstairs quietly and don’t bother mom who was napping on the couch. Basically, you could either go outside and stay there or be upstairs and stay there but you couldn’t have it both ways.

The boys would retreat to do whatever boys do outside. While my sister Bekah and I opted to stay upstairs and play quietly. This arrangement worked well for a couple of days. But by that third day I grew bored. About 20 minutes into the quiet time I decided that I wanted to go and get the baby kitties from the barn and bring them into the house. However, there was an obstacle. Mom was napping downstairs right next to the front door. There was no entering or exiting the house through the only door. However, this would not stop me and my mission. My creative juices started flowering. There had to be a way, right? In all honesty, my sister probably tried to talk me out of my devious plans, but my plan required team work. I successfully convinced her that she wanted to play with the baby kittens too. And so my accomplice was born and I could execute my fool proof plan.

For whatever reason, my dad had taken the screen off of one of the upstairs windows on the 2nd floor of our 3 story home. I went into the linen closet and found an old mismatched sheet that my mom wouldn’t notice was missing. I slowly and quietly opened the window and hung the sheet out of it. Then I tied one end of the sheet to the couch leg; I asked my sister to hold on to the sheet for extra support and I lowered myself down. It worked! Bek threw one of our school backpacks down to me and I made my way down to the barn. I loaded the baby kittens into the back pack and climbed back up the sheet. This was our daily occurrence for several days. Mom and Dad would never find out. We were like secret operatives on a top secret mission and no one would ever know our secret.

That is, until the day Bek asked if she could be the one that was being lowered down. I opened the window and threw the sheet out just like every other day. However, my sister was small and my pride was as big as the state of Minnesota. I decided that I could just hold the sheet and not tie off the end to the couch.

Carefully, my sister made her way out the window. She began to climb lower and lower on the sheet. Then all of the sudden she looked up at me and her facial expression turned to panic…and then her hands let go. The shock of her letting go caused my hands released the sheet and both my sister and the sheet went falling to their doom.

BekandI80swall

All I could do was watch as my sister fell flat onto her back. To my relief her head was inches from the cement opening of the cistern and she landed on the grass. To my detriment, my dad was working in the yard that day and saw everything. Well, he didn’t see everything. He saw my sister climbing out of a window, and me dropping a sheet. Let’s just say my dad was none too pleased with me that day, and yes Mom did wake up from her nap. And yes, I was punished for dropping my sister out of a second story window, but really, she let go… It doesn’t matter no one will ever believe me.

Happy Birthday!!! It’s a miracle you survived this long….

Sometimes I Need a Boost

MattandIdressup

My favorite past time… DRESS UP!

I’m a firm believer that every little girl needs a big brother. Either by blood or by friendship we need them. That may just be because I have two awesome brothers, but it doesn’t change my opinion. We all need brothers who will come along side us, support us, and give us a boost when life’s challenges become too hard to bear alone. My constant encourager is my brother Matt. When I prayed about my birthday tribute to him I asked for guidance on what story God wanted me to share and he placed Shannon the horse on my heart.

Summers on the farm proved to get longer as we got older. As preteens we weren’t old enough to drive or have employment. When we weren’t picking rock for the neighbors our days were spent making our own fun. As kids of a cattle farmer we always wanted more. You know, the grass is always greener. We wanted a horse. Thankfully about a mile up the road our next door neighbor had an old horse that didn’t get much attention, so when the neighbor kids wanted to play with his horse he was more than happy to let us give her some much needed attention. Shannon was really old and extremely mild mannered but enjoyed when we would come to brush her or ride her around the property.

One day my sister and I walked up the road to find Matt playing “cowboy” with Shannon. Well, I guess it wasn’t cowboy so much as he has decided we should ride her bareback, no doubt like the Indians did in the movie Dances with Wolves. Matt convinced me this would be a good idea and proceeded to “teach” me how to grab Shannon’s mane and jump up on her. Well, I have always lacked in the muscle department so there was no possible way that I could jump onto that horse by myself. Matt then devised a plan. I would hold onto Shannon’s mane and put my foot into his intertwined fingers. He would give me a small boost while I swung my leg over the other side. I was determined to ride her bare back and he was a supportive big brother that didn’t want to see my dreams crushed.

And so it went, I stood on Shannon’s left side and grabbed her mane with my left hand. I used my right hand to balance myself on her body. Matt squatted down and intertwined his fingers into a low stirrup for me to stand in. I set my left foot in his hands. “Ready?” He asked. “1, 2, 3…” And I went flying over the horse!

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Matt and I with our “baby” Bekah.

“You were supposed to hold on!” He yelled. “How am I supposed to hold on when you launched me over the horse?” I yelled back.

I don’t know if I actually rode the horse that day. No doubt Matt laughed and I stormed off in a fit of rage. But one thing I know for sure, whenever I need a little encouragement, I always know who to call for a “boost”.

The Old Brown Recliner- Happy Birthday Dad!

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. :)

Christmas 1985. The last year that I got to put the angel on the tree because then Bek was born. 🙂

When I’m feeling sad, I find myself snuggled up to my “Daddy” in the old brown recliner. This is where I feel safe. I know my mother is cringing right now because I don’t think there was ever a piece of furniture she hated more than the old brown recliner. When I was young, I remember sitting on my dad’s lap in the old brown recliner. I was safe there and there was nothing that could touch me. No brothers would pull my hair or try to wrestle me to the ground. In the old brown recliner in my dad’s lap, I was safe from any chaos in my life. This is where I go when I don’t feel safe in my adult life. I go right back to sitting on my “Daddy’s” lap in the old brown recliner. I say “Daddy” in quotes because I don’t want my readers to think that I go and snuggle up on Gordy’s lap in a recliner at 30 years of age. No, I sit on God’s lap in the old brown recliner. It is my safe place to fall when chaos shows it’s ugly face.

There are so many things that I am eternally grateful for in my life: one of them is my Dad. I don’t think I’ve ever given him the true props that he deserves so I’ll do my best here. I’ve always considered myself to have a really good grasp on who God truly is: His Grace, His Hope, His Love, etc. He has always been someone I can count on and who will never abandon me. I know I can trust Him. Through my interactions I’ve learned that not every young woman has the same outlook on God as I do, and I know why.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

5 months old and surrounded by my favorite things: my dad and a kitty.

When I was growing up, I was never told that I was ugly or worthless by my dad. At least once a day I was hugged and told that I was beautiful and could do anything I set my mind too. Even when my math homework wasn’t sinking into my brain, my dad met me with patience rather than anger. When I couldn’t remember my memory verse late Saturday night that I needed to remember for Sunday morning church, my dad sat in the old brown recliner into the night and helped me break it down to learn it. Of course, I had to do the dishes for a week because I SHOULD have memorized my verse months ago, but the punishment fit the crime and I learned self discipline. The only time my dad ever yelled at me (to my knowledge) was the day I spooked the cows and they went running the opposite direction from where he was trying to put them and then through the fence. Again, the punishment fit the crime and I had to run the furthest to get them rounded back up and help fix the fence. That day, I learned to respect others. My point being, I didn’t grow up with a push over dad that let me walk all over him. When I did something naughty or disobeyed, the punishment fit the crime. I wasn’t torn down and told that I was worthless or stupid. At the end of the day, I could always feel safe in my dad’s arms. And for this, I am eternally grateful. I was blessed to have such an amazing dad. He’s not perfect because he’s not God, he’s a man. A man who’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong and whom I respect more and more each day because of his imperfections. I learned from him to be self disciplined and have a high sense of self worth, I also have an amazing vision of who my Savior really is. I know God is always there for me. I can lean on Him and He will never abandon me. He loves me in spite of my flaws and inability to keep cows in a pen or calculate simple math problems in my head. He loves me for me. I have strengths and I have weaknesses, but nothing will ever change that I am loved beyond my comprehension. Should I ever need a safe place to fall I can always find comfort in knowing that the old brown recliner lives on in my imagination. (Since I’m pretty sure mom burned the actual one.)

Happy Birthday to the best Dad in the whole WORLD!!! I am VERY fortunate to be your daughter!

P.S. I could have told Dad’s favorite story for his birthday but I already posted that here.

My wedding day...

My wedding day…

Sunday Afternoons and the Dreaded Bowl of Doom

Sunday afternoons are supposed to be a time of rest and relaxations. It says so in the bible. I looked it up! After getting up early to go to church at 9 and then Sunday School afterward, we would all come home and enjoy a delicious homemade meal. A perfect set up for an afternoon nap. Then dad would stand up, walk over to the refrigerator, and grab the small bowl off the top. Every Sunday us kids would moan and groan, begging for mercy, but Dad would push on. “Who wants to go first?” he would ask. His question was always followed by a choir of “Dad, do we have too?” “Can we just skip this week?” “Can we have today off?” “I’m too tired.” “Please?” But dad was nothing if not consistent. “We can sit here all day if you want but we’re going to do this whether you like it or not.” “I’ll go first” I bravely proclaimed. My dad held out the dreaded bowl of doom. Then the other three siblings would follow my lead, and the last marble was dads. “Alright you four, those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves.” Slowly, I released the small fist I made around my marble, one finger at a time to reveal… the red marble. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I yelled. The red marble meant I would have to wash the dishes. The most coveted job of them all! Matt had the black marble which meant he would dry, and Andy was blessed with the blue marble, put away. “Bek and Dad always get the green marbles” I complained. “Do you want me to empty the cupboards so you can wash all the dishes we own” dad would offer. “No” I would respond as I made my way over to the sink. “Alright then, you three better get to work.” Mom would always offer to help every Sunday and every Sunday Dad would force her to go upstairs and take a rest. She deserved a break from washing dishes the entire week.

“Get to it then, if I hear any fighting I WILL empty those cupboards” Dad would threaten. Mom and Bek would make their way up the stairs to relax and Dad would reside at his post in the living room, in the form of a recliner to keep a watchful eye on his little soldiers.

Sadly, I looked down at my freshly manicured fingernails and knew my labor from Saturday for beauty would be ruined after this excursion. I did my best to give dad the puppy dog eye but to no avail. My fate had been decided with no one backing down. “Come on Joanna hurry up! I want to watch the game” Andy would press.

Hanging my head in defeat I made my way over to the sink and counter full of dirty dishes; I filled the sink with water and began to wash as fast as I could and then passed them to Matt for inspection. Plop! A clean dish was thrown back into my sink of hot water. “It’s not clean” Matt said. Gritting me teeth I would rewash the dish and hand it back to him. Plop! He threw it back in my sink. With the look of a thousand demons on my face I glared at my older brother, “it’s still not clean” “Well then why don’t you wash it” I would whisper as sternly as I could as to not wake dad who had just begun his slumber in the next room. “I didn’t draw that marble, so I can’t.”

And so the bickering would start. And then get louder and well, let’s just say that sometimes, the cupboards were emptied on Sunday afternoons.

Matt and I washing the dishes. There really should be some child labor law in place, right? 🙂

God’s Gift to the World!!! – just kidding :)

housewinter2

I’m very fortunate to have received the gift of creativity from my parents.  So when I started asking questions about my birth story so that I could write my own version filled with drama and twists and turns, my mom offered to write it for me! So, today I give you all a special treat, a guest post today from my lovely mother Sheryl… Enjoy!

It was a cold dark December night and the weather was turning nasty.   As the family settled in to watch their favorite Monday night comedy shows, the father noticed that the freezing rain had begun.  Although the Mother was feeling uncomfortable she did not feel like she was in recognizable labor.   The family was watching the Bob Newhart show and the weather wasn’t getting any better so the father announced that as soon as the show was over the family would load up in the car and head to town just in case the baby decided to arrive on this blustery night.   Not long after the car was loaded and the boys in their places, the mother- to-be started to feel labor pains that she had been waiting for two weeks and she knew it “was time.”

The next plan was to drop the mother off at the hospital and take the boys to grandmas.  Is this where the song “over the river and though the woods “came from??

Or is this the song being sung on those icy roads 10 miles from the hospital?

The special child was born after several hours of walking up and down the hallways of the hospital which was and still continues to be the smallest one in the state of Minnesota.

Ok, ok back to the special baby…….yes, the baby was born and she was a GIRL!   Yes! A girl!!! Pink, bows, lace and dresses now could enter into the happy mother’s life.   You see the family before this special night consisted of a father, a mother and two little boys.   Now they were joined by a Girl!  A red headed girl!   This mother was so excited that she called her mother to tell her that she had been blessed with a daughter, a redheaded daughter!   The grandmother proceeded to tell her daughter that the little girl probably just had remains of her birth on her head and not red hair!  The grandmother was very surprised in the morning when 4 hours after the birth and her first bath the little girl still had beautiful red hair.  Red hair and an amazing interest in the new world around her.  The nurses were surprised at her alertness and interest in her new world! But where did this red hair gene come from???   As the child grew she used to tell people it came from the milkman!  Her mother said it came from the milk.  Well, it was true that the milkman did have red hair……..But with all kidding aside the red hair came from several generations back on both parents side.   The great grandmother sister on the maternal side had reddish hair and the great grandfather on the paternal side had a red beard.  God took out his red brush that night and created a beautiful little baby girl to bless this family and the world.  This beautiful baby girl, Joanna Kay Kopperud was born on December14, 1982 to two very proud parents and two very excited big brothers.   The mother felt like she had just received a special new dolly for Christmas that year.

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Can we all just take a moment to admire how incredibly adorable my brothers were???? So cute!!!! Joanna’s Homecoming and Christmas Card 1982.

Happy 30th birthday baby girl!

My Earliest Memory- Grandpa Francis

Thanks to the handy dandy calendar my Mom made for me, I am reminded that it’s my Grandpa Francis Birthday on Thursday. We share the same middle name so I’ve always felt we’ve had a special bond. So to honor my dear Grandpa I’ve written one of my earliest memories of him.

“Go on Joanna” said my mother, “go on sit on Grandpa’s lap. He has a Christmas Present for you”. My mother gently pushed my back towards my grandpa who was holding a beautifully wrapped gift. It was Christmas Eve and Grandpa had purchased a special gift for me. At three years old, I was terrified to go and sit on his lap. The idea of going to sit on his lap made me nervous. Grandpa was always kind of rough and tough. I looked around the room and all of my relatives were watching me, anxiously waiting to see what my next move was going to be. I put one foot in front of the other and walked my way toward him. He pulled me up into his lap and set the small package in my hands. Eagerly, I tore open the red and green paper and to see a small white box. Grandpa took it out of my hands and opened the top to reveal a beautiful necklace and matching bracelet. I remember the small heart shaped beads were so smooth and dyed a different pastel color.

“Would you like me to put them on you?” Grandpa asked. I eagerly shook my head yes! He gently lifted my hair and connected the clasp at the back of my neck. Then he removed the bracelet from the box and wrapped it around my wrist. I couldn’t wait to run and show my mother. I jumped out of Grandpa’s lap and ran over to her to show her how beautiful the items were!

“Oh, those are absolutely beautiful! Be sure to thank your Grandpa. He picked those out just for you!” I turned around and saw a warm smile on my grandfather’s face. I smiled back and whispered a soft “Thank you Grandpa”. “You’re welcome.” He smiled in return and my fear melted away.

Turns out, a little redhead can melt the heart of a rough and tough man. Well, a little redhead, 4 blondes and a brunette… And still counting:) Now he’s just a big pile of mush.  Happy Birthday Grandpa Francis!!! 🙂

Lefse!!!!

This gallery contains 19 photos.

Right before Thanksgiving it is a tradition in my family to make Lefse. Mom wakes Bek and I up nice and early and the three of us would make Lefse. Bek would usually get downstairs before me so she would … Continue reading

Dr. Andy’s First Patient… or So I Claim

My first day of school in my teddy bear dress Mom made with my hero’s!

It’s not always easy growing up in the shadows of greatness. I say “shadows” because I have two older brothers who are grrrreat! For those of you that don’t know, my oldest brother is a doctor. Since tomorrow is Dr. Andy’s birthday I thought maybe all of his current patients would appreciate a little story of his first patient, ME! (Don’t worry Matt and Bek I will have a special story for your birthdays too. Scared? You should be. )

Andy was always a mature child so naturally when my parents would go on dates or had some sort of function they needed to attend Andy was often our baby sitter. Early this particular summer, Dad set up our pop-up camper to air it out and clean it for use. Since mom and dad had a prior engagement that evening, it was up to us kids to clean out the camper while they were gone. We were equipped with hot water in buckets and old rags that mom left out for us. It was Andy’s responsibility to keep us on task and get the camper cleaned out. We proceeded to open all the zipper windows and wash every surface in preparation for that weekend’s first camping trip of the summer.

Once all the cleaning was finished the four of us started to play around the camper. It was fun running in and out and all around in the beautiful summer evening. I remember standing in the doorway of the camper and Matt just outside. Matt reached to swing the door of the camper shut, and for some reason, I reached out to stop it from closing and… SLAM! My thumb was pinched in the door. I screamed and Andy came to my rescue.

Dr. Andy’s #1 fans at his Med-School Graduation. Yes… we were the loudest! And yes, we made our own foam fingers. 🙂

He grabbed my forearm of my injured extremity and tucked it under his elbow so he could examine the damage. I bent and strained to see it around his shoulder but he had me pinned down. “Whelp, there’s skin hanging off of your thumb and it’s bleeding. We need to wash this out or it will get infected.” And just like that, I was dragged out of the camper, across the front lawn, and came to a halt in front of the kitchen sink. Since my arm was pinned under his elbow I couldn’t see what he was planning to do. Then, he turned the water on, “Let me go! It’s fine! Let me go! Please don’t do this, it’s going to hurt!” I pleaded as I fought against his brute strength. “Joanna, hold still we have to wash it out or it will get infected.” “I don’t want to wash it out. I’m happy to have an infection! Ot’s ok, I’m fine, really. Pleeeeaaase let me go!” I fought as hard as I could. I kicked and hit with my free limbs, and I almost got loose. “Matt come help me,” Andy yelled. “Yes, Matt please come and free me!” I yelled after him. To my detriment, brothers stick together. As Matt came into the kitchen I was so happy. However, to my surprise, Matt wrapped his arms around me and held me down as Andy pulled my sore thumb closer to the running water. “WAHHHHHHHHHH!!!” I screamed as the sting of the water hit the open wound on my thumb.

My body went limp, from what can only be an extreme state of shock, and there was no more fight left in me. Matt let go and Andy proceeded to bandage my thumb with a band aid. I fell to the floor as I watched the boys make their way back outside the house. “See, now was that so bad?” Andy asked as he walked away.

Dr. Andy with his beautiful bride at his Med-School Graduation.

After 20+ years and extensive medical training, I can say with great confidence that Dr. Andy has learned more finesse and better bedside manner since that day. After all, it’s a big brothers job to torture his younger siblings. As I lay there on the kitchen floor for several minutes I began to plot my revenge. Then I looked down at my perfectly bandaged finger and realized it really wasn’t that bad. I may be a bit of a drama queen, but I won’t ever tell him that…. 🙂

A Minnesotan Halloween

Halloween has always been a big deal in my family. We didn’t decorate the house, but we did concentrate a lot of energy on our costumes. All of our costumes were handmade in some way, shape or form. My mom didn’t head to the local Wal-Mart to purchase them, probably because most years there was a blizzard so you really couldn’t get to Wal-Mart. Sometimes the costumes were things that we pieced together from different wardrobe pieces, sometimes they were mom and dad’s old clothes, and sometimes mom would hand sew something. Of course, we were in Minnesota so some kind of sweatshirt or winter parka would need to be incorporated so we wouldn’t get sick trick or treating in the snow.

Every year mom would take us to Westbrook and we would trick or treat down Main Street with the local businesses handing out candy. Then we would head to Grandpa and Grandma’s house so that they could “ooh and ahh” all over their adorable grandchildren. After that, mom loaded us into the old green Chevy car and we would trick or treat to the neighbors around the farm.

There was always an adventure to be had as we didn’t know what the weather would turn into or if we could even get out of the house. But I remember the constant anticipation to finally dress up and let people see me dressed up. Dress up was and is still my favorite form of  play.

I really wanted this post to be a story but quite frankly the only Halloween story that I remember is when I wanted to be a princess. I couldn’t find the princess dress that I wanted to wear and to make matters worse my mom made me wear a sweatshirt under my princess dress and none of the princesses that I had seen riding around in parades had to wear sweatshirts under their dresses… Of course the princesses that I saw were riding floats up and down the streets of small town’s months before in the summer. Then to make matters almost unbearable, mom made me wear my winter coat over my princess dress which, again, wasn’t the dress I wanted to wear in the first place! The nerve…. It was so traumatic to have Halloween during the first snow storm, and I’m still recovering from the shock… But I think that is the only story I remember because most Halloween’s we had a lot of fun! I’ve decided to share a Kopperud Halloween with all of you!

Halloween 1985 Andy-Cowboy, Matt-Indian, Joanna-Pumpkin
(Notice the winter jackets, mittens, and snowpants)

At Grandma and Grandpa’s house Halloween 1985 (Nice braids Matt)

Halloween 1987 Andy-Indian, Matt-Vikings Football Player, Joanna- Virgin Mary (apparently Jesus had red hair), Bek- Clown

Halloween 1986 Andy- Ghost, Matt-Farmer, Joanna-Kitteh (Mom made my costume)

Halloween 1995?-This is how you keep your kids out of trouble on Halloween folks, throw a Halloween party at the church! Mom and Dad- Clowns, Andy-Dressed as Dad in Dad’s graduation outfit, Matt-Hippie, Joanna-Cheerleader, Bek-Angel