Sunday, November 26, 2006

Christmas Decor

We just barely got our house completely unpacked and in order for our Thanksgiving guests to arrive . . . and now it's time to undo much of what we did in order to redo it with Christmas decorations!

While I was at work Friday (yes, I had to work Friday), Susan put up our Christmas tree and started sorting through Christmas decorations. This is the first time we've had space to put up a Christmas tree without having first to take down, move, or put away something else! We spent Friday night and Saturday morning decorating the tree. We have a pickle ornament (here is the reason) that I hid in the tree, and, despite numerous expeditions, the girls still have not located it! (Can you find it?)

We took a break from decorating yesterday midday to have dinner at Kathy and Pat's home, Susan's aunt and uncle. Relatives there included Tina, Tracy and her boyfriend Tory, Trista, Mary, Laura and her new baby Kaden, Landon, Chantel (sp?) and her new puppy Chuck, and us. Dale, Lee, and Todd were just arriving as we left.

We did a little shopping (have you been to The Village in downtown Dickinson? great store!) and then returned to continue decorating. We stayed up until it was all done, watching the little girls fall off one at a time. Abigail put herself to bed around 10:00; Hillary passed out mid-sentence on the couch around 11:30; and Suzanna stuck it out 'til the end, around 12:30.

Now, all our Christmas decorations are up, all the trees (four of them!) are decorated, all the lights are plugged in, everything that puts out music is broadcasting Christmas tunes, and we're thinking about the next holiday.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks for Family and a Feast

Yesterday was a fantastic Thanksgiving! Susan and I had earlier watched Alton Brown's Food Network show Good Eats, in which he showed how he brines his turkey and then stuffs it with aromatics before roasting it. Susan prepared the turkey the same way, and we placed it in our (brand new!) electric roaster in the laundry room downstairs to fill the house with its aromas all morning. (Having it and the baked goods--cookies by Sandy, krumkaka by Beverly, apple and pumpkin pies by Susan--on a table in another room reminded me of big family get-togethers from my own childhood. My mom and aunts and grandmother all did the same thing!)

Susan and Sandy spent the morning preparing food, and Suzanna and I did little stuff such as preparing the vegetable tray. I also set the table:

When Dad and Beverly arrived (he checked his oil wells early in the morning so they could leave in time to arrive for dinner), we had our meal: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (Stove Top, per my request), sweet potatoes (fresh, not canned), scalloped corn, scalloped oysters, cranberry Jell-O salad with mandarin oranges, glorified rice with cherries (from Beverly), vegetable tray (raw carrots, red peppers, green peppers, cucumbers, celery, and veggie dip), pickles (dill, green olives, and black olives), lefse (made in our kitchen by Sandy), wine (from Oregon, courtesy of Cathy and Kathy), coffee, pumpkin pie, and apple pie. We all gathered at the same table at the same time; no more eating in shifts, as in our previous (smaller) house. It was terrific.

Afterwards, Dad and Beverly napped while the rest of us went for a "constitutional" in Young's Park (a.k.a. Rocky Butte Park). It's a large park atop a huge hill right behind our house. From it, one can look down upon all of Dickinson. There are walking trails among the Ponderosa pines; there's a large collection of boulders for climbing upon and playing secret fort within; there are playground and picnic facilities. The weather was just right for a brisk walk, and we saw plenty of other people who asked about us, "More overeaters?" The girls collected pine cones and ran around. On our way home, we stopped at a war memorial across the street from the park. It features a rebuilt Air Force plane--complete with working lights--atop a brick structure with an outline in metal of the soldiers who raised the U.S. flag on Mt. Suribachi during World War II. There are marble plaques engraved with the names of Dickinson residents who died fighting in various wars.

I had thought there might be time for us to play cards or board games, but time slipped away. Instead, we visited and picked at leftovers at suppertime (who was hungry??) and enjoyed each other's company. Before Dad and Beverly left, we had to have a family portrait:

Dad and his kids

the biological Mobergs

the whole clan

It was so nice to have everyone together for the holiday and to be able to host everybody comfortably in our home. This morning Cathy and Kathy had to leave early to catch the train in Williston, ND en route to Woodburn, OR, and Sandy left at the same time, driving the opposite direction to return to Omaha, NE. We're still giving thanks for their being here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Egrets Regret

(No, there's no reason whatsoever for the title of this post. It's the name of a public television show that Mr. Keaton mentions producing during an episode of the TV show Family Ties. Has nothing to do with anything, really.)

It's almost Thanksgiving! And my sisters are here! Sandy, my sister from Omaha, NE, arrived on Saturday. She drove the 11 or so hours and brought her lefse griddle and used it this morning while we were all at work and school. Sandy has been baking and cooking while here (Mom's recipes: potato salad, barbecue ribs, sour cream cookies), and she stayed home with Hillary all day Monday (a day Hillary would otherwise have spent at daycare). She'll leave again Friday.

Cathy, my sister from Woodburn, OR, arrived today with her roommate Kathy. They took the train to Williston, ND Sunday, then spent the past few days with my dad and stepmom on the farm outside McGregor, ND. They borrowed Dad's car and drove here this morning. They'll drive themselves back to Williston on Friday.

My dad and stepmom will come here tomorrow for "the Thanksgiving feast," as Abigail calls it. It'll be a house full of family and food . . . awesome!

P.S. My sisters and I spent a huge chunk of the evening going through several boxes of Mom's things--things from the farm that were given to us to sort and deal with. Susan spent all evening and night preparing for tomorrow's "feast": baking pies, prepping the turkey in its marinating brine, getting the veggie tray ready, etc.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cinema Chez Moi

Now that we have digital TV and a DVR, I've had access to more movies--and more capacity to record and store them all easily--than ever before. Thus, I've been watching more movies than, well, ever. Check out what I've been watching lately.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I'm a sap. I've been moved to giggles, tears, suspense, anger, etc., while watching Dancing with the Stars this fall. It's one of just a few shows on television in the evening that Susan and I feel we can watch with the girls and enjoy as a family. It features celebrities matched up with professional ballroom dancers. Each week the pair must win over the panel of judges as well as the voting-by-phone viewing public to avoid elimination. Tonight's finalists were actor Mario Lopez and football player Emmitt Smith. The girls love to dance and every week really "got into" judging the dancers, choosing favorites, and crossing their fingers when elimination time came around. (Hillary usually cried each week, completely sucked in by the sad "goodbye" music and the thought that someone she liked was being let go.) We were all rooting for Emmitt tonight and nearly lept up clapping when he was announced as the winner. I have no good explanation for being so taken in by this show, but it has been a fun experience for our family the past couple months.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

(Ten bonus points for whoever comments with an explanation for why the "its" in the title of this entry does not have an apostrophe in it . . .)

Our children have been very patient. Ever since we moved in, we've had boxes to unpack, things to find places for, furniture to buy, walls to paint, pictures to hang, and on and on. Even after I got the last of the boxes moved from the garage to the basement, there those boxes sat, waiting for us to put up enough shelves in the storage room to unpack them and organize their contents.

Within those boxes were most of the girls' toys. But did they pester us to get that last room organized and those toy boxes accessible? Nope. They had a few toys from the easiest-to-reach boxes, and they were just fine with those, never once digging around for their favorite bears or dolls or other fun toys. They just waited patiently. Sigh.

Well, today we sorted the last of those boxes into scrapbooking/cardmaking/stamping/craft supplies (all of which went onto their own set of shelves), Christmas and other holidays' decorations (again, their own set of shelves), Susan's and Kevin's childhood memorabilia (another section), the girls' crafts and art supplies (and another), and board games (yet another). We gathered all the dolls and doll clothes together and the dress-up clothes and stored them in Abigail's enormous closet. We collected all the blocks and Legos to store in Suzanna's closet. And we sorted through the toys that each of the girls wanted to keep in their own rooms: their own bears and dishes and dolls and games, etc. Whew!

Having uncovered Suzanna's Easy-Bake oven in the process gave her the idea to do some baking, so she (and Mommy) made some Easy-Bake sugar cookies and frosted them with powdered sugar frosting colored yellow to suggest autumn (or urine, depending on your perspective). We have yet to sample those. The girls are still too busy playing tea party and singing into Hillary's flower-shaped microphone (a gift--maybe from a birthday?--that she had unwrapped but never opened, so we had fun setting that up today, too) into which they've plugged Suzanna's CD player so that they can sing along to their The Princess Diaries 2 and A Very Veggie Christmas CDs.

What a great day.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Four Sax-y Men

Last night we enjoyed another event in the Dickinson Area Concert Series. It was a concert by Presidio Saxophone Quartet from the Tucson, AZ area. Each of the men played a different saxophone: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. They were excellent, making the saxophone sound truly beautiful (which I don't recall thinking when hearing it played by classmates in high school [with apologies to my sister who herself played sax]). They played classical music and jazz and ragtime and modern.

In between songs, they took turns stepping to the microphone and telling a little about themselves, their travels, and their musical selections. Apparently they had played for a tough crowd in SD a few days earlier; they made much of the fact that we were a much more receptive, welcoming, energized, and attentive audience. But, hey, how could we not be? Their fingering and tonguing skills (simmer down, now . . .) were remarkable; they were able to play with speed and precision as well as dynamics and expression. Each concert in this series has amazed me and made me happy to have the chance to enjoy such fine music with my family, especially the kids, who are "getting culture," as one fellow audience member put it. (Hillary fell asleep a few minutes after the concert began, and Suzanna fell asleep after Presidio returned from intermission. Can one "get culture" passively while sleeping?)

P.S. Presidio shared little tidbits about the relatively young history of the saxophone, too, explaining that it wasn't created until the 1840s, so there isn't as much music written for the sax as for many other instruments. Learn a little about it yourself at "Sax Appeal" (love that title).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Cable Tension

I mean that two ways: my tension over the cables, and the cables' tension.

The garage door for the stall where I park my vehicle has been naughty lately. The cables that spool up on pulleys overhead each time the garage door rises have been unspooling and wrapping around the bar that connects both pulleys. Then, when the garage door shuts, it gets hung up by the cables that are off the pulleys, wrapped around parts that they shouldn't be, and stuck in moving parts that can't move with the cables stuck in them. This happens, of course, either when I'm on my way to work and haven't allotted spare time to fix potential garage door problems, or when I'm on my way home from work when it's frigid and unpleasant to be standing on a ladder in the cold weather working with garage door cables.

I think the situation is fixed now, though. I had to restring both cables and adjust the tension on the connecting bar to make sure the cables stay taut as they wind around the spools as the door opens. If there are more cable woes, you'll be sure to read more about it here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Propensity to Self-Injure Moved to Dickinson With Us!

Tonight's guest blogger is Hillary:

I got stitches. I told my friend Jazelle that those little toy boxes were dangerous to lie on, and then it rolled out, and I looked behind with one eye open, one eye closed, and then I cracked my head open. The principal came down and got me to bring upstairs. Then Betsy called my mom, and Betsy wasn't sure if my dad or mom was picking me up. I had to go to the doctor to see "Dr. Goofy." I really liked it when I got to see the doctor because it was fun because I got to miss a little bit of school. He stitched my head up. When I was done, I got a sucker. I ate my sucker, and then I got to go out and get ice cream at TCBY. We had to go home to call my dad. Now I have five stitches by the side of my left eye.

Yes, folks, another minor medical emergency for the Mobergs. This marks the third time that Hillary--all of five years old now--has required stitches (well, the first time the doctor used medical glue instead of needle and thread). Ironically, the falling-off-a-toybox incident was happening at kindergarten at the exact time that I was at work signing up for an accidental injury plan that will cover the cost of emergency room visits, stitches, etc. . . . after January 1, when the plan takes effect. It just figures!

No trauma on Hillary's part, and apparently no pain. Just another scar on her pretty little face. At this rate, she'll run out of facial real estate for further injuries/scarring before she's out of high school!

[Astute "Pensive? No, Just Thinking" readers will recall reading about the first and second set of stitches in April 2005.]