Sunday, May 31, 2009
The Norwegian-Americans from Ogdenville sport blond hair and beards, are easy-going and hard-working, and speak with the sing-songy lilt of stereotypical Minnesotans (ever seen the movie Fargo?). As a Scandinavian, a Syttende Mai celebrator, and a former Minnesotan myself, I can appreciate the teasing (and not entirely inaccurate) depiction of Norwegian-Americans; and as an American with a sense of humor, I can appreciate the satirical parallels between Springfield's reaction to immigrants from Ogdenville and America's reaction to immigrants from Mexico.
Thank you, Sons of Norway Blog, for calling this episode to my attention! Fair Reader, if you have 21.5 minutes to spare, get comfy and watch it for yourself.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Do recall, Fair Reader, that last year, our family enjoyed hosting a sleepover for Susan's cousin Todd's son Trae, then just half-a-year old (remember?). Now he's almost two, and he's spending the night with us again! His mommy, Trista, brought him over this afternoon, and the girls were very busy into the evening keeping him entertained. They took out a tub of some of their own toys from a few years ago and showed him how to play with them. They spent a good part of the afternoon outdoors exploring the yard, taking him for wagon rides on the driveway, and eating popsicles. Back indoors, they watched some Wiggles movies with him, introduced him to Huckleberry Fin, walked him up and down the stairway repeatedly, and joined him in playing with the baby and blankie that he brought along.
After supper (more on that below), Susan gave him a bath and then tucked him into bed in Hillary's room. She put pillows on the floor on either side of the bed because Trista warned her that Trae sometimes falls out of bed in the middle of the night . . . and about an hours ago, Susan discovered him on the floor! But he was still asleep and didn't wake up when she put him back in bed. Cute!
Here's the freshly bathed lad playing with one of Hillary's toys, a pink stuffed baby bear that has its own blue pacifier. Isn't he doing a fine job pacifying the baby?
And here's Trae "caring for" Suzanna's baby doll Sophie. A real baby probably wouldn't appreciate a caregiver who lies directly atop it and sticks his fingers into its eyes, but Sophie didn't fuss.
See what a good-humored guy Trae is? Here he's playing with one of Hillary's stretchy toys.
And here's Trae in Hillary's bedroom at bedtime. I'm guessing that his house does not feature any rooms with as much pink in them as Hillary's bedroom has (but there's some token blue for him in the sheets on Hillary's bed).
Meanwhile I fired up the grill and loaded several fish grilling baskets with fillets of ocean perch (just because seafood is a very Nordic menu item, even if I couldn't find any actually imported from a Scandinavian country). I rubbed each fillet with olive oil, salted and peppered it, laid fresh herbs upon it (rosemary, sage, and parsley), and topped it with slices of lemon. The fish was perfectly done and was a good match for the soup. I don't think any of the fish made it into Trae's stomach, but he enjoyed the bread and the soup.
English cheese, Norwegian flatbrød, French bâtard, Danish soup, Canadian fish, and Norwegian fruit custard--it turned out to be quite an international menu for our Scandinavian Saturday. All in all, the meal was très magnifique (there--does that help you with the title?)!
P.S. To further globalize our food intake, I also bought peach kuchen for our breakfast tomorrow. Yep, may as well add some German food to the mix.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
With all three girls receiving awards, Susan and I knew we had to attend (she got her principal's permission to leave school for part of the afternoon). But how could we do it without raising the girls' suspicions and alerting them to the fact that they'd be winning awards? Well, as it turns out, the school ends the awards program with a "graduation ceremony" for the fifth-graders (who will attend sixth grade in a different school building next year), so there was our excuse: we had to attend for Suzanna's fifth-grade graduation!
It was awfully fun to be able to watch the girlies receive their awards. And it was fortunate that we got front-row seats for optimal recording of the event. Enjoy these highlights:
Here is Abigail winning an award for perfect attendance. Her sisters had no hope of winning this award due to their surgeries (remember this and this?). [The award announcer/distributor is Mrs. Meduna, the girls' principal.]
Here is Abigail winning the President's Award for Educational Excellence, which came with a copy of a congratulatory letter from President Obama.
Second-graders were not eligible to receive the President's Award (too young), so their teachers came up with an equivalent award (Outstanding Student) so that they could recognize deserving children in their classrooms, too. Here is Hillary winning that award. (Our neighbor and Hillary's best friend Madeline is seen receiving the award, too, in this clip.)
Here is Suzanna winning the President's Award for Educational Excellence.
Here is Suzanna (and Madeline again) winning the Golden Rule award. In the video clip, Mrs. Meduna explains what this particular award is all about.
Here is Mrs. Meduna announcing the fifth-graders' "graduation."
And here is Suzanna "graduating"!
Monday, May 25, 2009
On our way out of town Saturday morning, we stopped at the cemetery where Susan's mom, Sue, is buried (a sad anniversary: Sue died 10 years ago this past January). Susan and the girls had decorated Sue's grave a few days earlier but had trouble getting a wooden cross into the ground, so I helped with that and then had the blondes pose. The pretty ladies are as colorful as the pretty flowers surrounding them!
My sisters and I take turns buying flowers for our mom's grave, and this year it was my sister Cathy's turn. Because she lives in OR, she ordered this beautiful arrangement for us to pick up from the flower shop in Tioga, ND on our way to Dad's. After we got to Dad and Beverly's and exchanged hugs and kisses with them and Sandy, we all headed to the cemetery to decorate Mom's grave and visit the graves of other relatives buried there.
Here are the beautiful blondes posing with me at my mom's grave. What you cannot see are the swarms of mosquitoes that defied the wind and persisted in attacking us the entire time we were at the cemetery.
Here are my sister Sandy and I at Mom's headstone.
We brought a belated Mother's Day gift for Beverly: flowers in purple, her favorite color. Beverly has a couple shepherd's crooks in the front yard from which to hang plants, and these purple flowers looked nice hanging there this weekend.
We brought an early Father's Day gift for Dad: a bird feeder made to look like a barn (since he lives on a farm). We also brought bird seed, and we filled the feeder and hung it on a shepherd's crook near the flowers. Both yesterday morning and today, little yellow and gray birds enjoyed the feast!
At the end of fourth grade for Suzanna, I gave her my trombone (remember?) so that she could take band lessons last summer and then join band in fifth grade. Well, Abigail's fourth-grade year is winding down, so Sandy--who drove to Dad's from Omaha--brought her saxophone for Abigail to use for lessons this summer and band in the autumn. Isn't that nice?! Here's Sandy demonstrating how to put together the instrument. (By the by, when it's time for Hillary to start band, she will play the flute that was Susan's when she herself was in band. Aren't we s' good to recycle?)
Beverly's great-granddaughter Cady spent Saturday night at the farm. Her dad brought her out Saturday evening, and her mom picked her up Sunday morning. In between, Cady did a lot of sleeping . . . but we still got a little playing in! She's a good-natured baby.
Suzanna and I made supper for Scandinavian Saturday! It was interesting to do so in somebody else's kitchen, but Beverly told me where to find things, and it all turned out well. Appetizer: shrimp and crab salad -- rye/caraway crackers and garden herb crackers -- dill pickles; Main Course: Swedish meatballs in gravy -- steamed baby potatoes in butter and fresh dill -- creamed peas with fried onions and bacon; Dessert: angel food cake -- homemade whipped cream -- homemade fruit sauce of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries simmered in the juice of a lemon with sugar and cardommom added
And here's Dennis.
And here's my aunt Penny.
P.S. Compare this year's Memorial Day weekend at the farm with last year's.
Monday, May 18, 2009
The ladies from Morris' church served a delicious lunch after the funeral, and in the room where Dad, Beverly, and I ate (Dad sang a song for the funeral), we watched a slideshow, set to music, that featured photos from throughout the years including family as well as farming: from the implements that Morris used when he started farming in the '20s (which required horses to pull them) to the huge tractors and other machinery that Morris and his family were using when he retired from farming a couple decades ago.
Morris had two sons--both deceased now--the younger of whom was my uncle Jerol, married to my dad's sister Penny. For supper Penny invited the extended family to the Jungle, a restaurant in Tioga, and I snapped a buncha pics. Here are some highlights for those of you tuning in to see photos of the family:
my aunt Penny, Morris' daughter-in-law
Dad and Beverly
my cousins Brenda and Jerry, two of Morris' three grandchildren (Penny and Jerol's children)
my step-aunt Janet (Shine's wife), Wanda (Jeff's wife), my cousin Jeff (Shine's son), and Myrna
Sunday, May 17, 2009
It was held in an auditorium at the university but put on by the girls' dance studio, Academy of Dance. The program was called "Back to the '80s" [which was misspelled "80's," but who am I to judge?]. Suzanna and Abigail's Ballet IV class danced to the theme song from the movie Chariots of Fire, and their Tap IV class danced to the theme song from the TV series Rags to Riches.
Abigail is front and center, and Suzanna is to Abigail's left. This is their Ballet IV class.
Hillary's Ballet III class danced to "Menuet Célèbre" performed by the Zagreb Philharmonic Chamber Studio [although what that song has to do with the 1980s, I don't know], and her Tap III class danced to the theme song from the TV show Pound Puppies.
Here is Hillary dancing with her Ballet III class.
When we got home, I cleaned up the grill and the fire pit, and for supper we had grilled brats (well, turkey sausages, but we ate them covered with sauerkraut and brown mustard, so it was like bratwurst) on the veranda while a fire crackled in the fire pit on the ground behind us. Then we roasted marshmallows over the fire for dessert. Summer has begun!
This morning Suzanna and Abigail's choir sang for church, and Susan joined the adult choir. After dinner at home, we went driving in search of Vang Lutheran Church to join their local Sons of Norway lodge for a Syttende Mai celebration! Yes, the 17th of May ("Syttende Mai" in Norwegian) is Norway's Constitution Day (read this, this, and this), similar to our Independence Day on July 4th. Sons of Norway lodges around the world celebrate the holiday in recognition of our Norske heritage. The Vang Lodge of Dunn County invited the Hardanger Lodge of Dickinson to join them for a celebration today, and we were game. Their lodge meets at a Norwegian church out in the country, so the first step was to find it! We used these directions to drive just north of Manning and then east several miles on rather well maintained gravel roads, and we found the church on the top of a hill.
It was overcast and windy today. The sky made for a pretty backdrop for all our photos of the church (I'll spare you the entire collection), but it was chilly outside, and we nearly blew off the hilltop when we weren't inside the building or the vehicle! Cute detail: When we first arrived, Hillary opened the van door, stepped outside, closed her eyes, breathed in deeply, and said, "Mmmmm, smells like Tioga." She meant my dad's farm between McGregor and Battleview (north of Tioga); she was recalling and appreciating the smell of fresh air out in the country. Atta girl!
Pretty altar, huh?
The maypole itself was a carpet roll that the Vang Lodge president had spent hours and hours wrapping in green twine. She also decorated an umbrella with plastic flowers for the top. Our lodge president built the wooden base.
Here's the crew "dancing" around the maypole . . . rather like bumper cars driven by alcoholics. Notice the ribbons entangled in midair above the woman in white slacks. Yeah, just getting the ribbons to touch the maypole itself was a challenge.
The maypole dancers.
How in the world was I supposed to get a lawnmower home from a rural church about 40 miles away when driving a minivan stuffed with children? I got the rear seat forward far enough to accommodate the dimensions of the lawnmower's base, and we folded down the handle so that it fit just fine in the back of the van. The gentleman had even filled it with oil and gasoline and started it before bringing it to the church; he wanted to make sure that it worked. Awesome!
Here is the girls' piano teacher, Mrs. Vold, posing with the little pianists.
Here is Abigail performing "Pirate of the North Sea."
And here is Suzanna performing "Warrior Brave."
The girls each did a fine job, as did Mrs. Vold's other students. Afterwards we gathered in the fellowship hall of the church where the recital was held (the church where Mrs. Vold's husband is pastor) and had treats and punch and coffee. When we got home, everyone was quite ready for bed! Aren't weekends supposed to be relaxing?!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
For a gift for Susan, the girls and I knew that we wanted to upgrade some of her kitchen items: replace scratched-up pans and baking sheets, cracked measuring cups, etc. We also wanted to add pieces that she didn't already have but could use; after all, she's quite the culinary queen, and she deserves fine instruments with which to perform her art and craft. But what do we really know about exactly what she wants or could use? So I told Susan outright what her gift was going to be . . . and then invited her to go shopping for it with us! Hey, at least she got to pick out things that she wanted and didn't have to deal with our clueless selections. We went shopping yesterday before and after supper and again today after dinner, and Susan was able to select cookery that meets her standards and fits in with her current collection.
The girls got Mommy something of their own, too. Suzanna and Susan had to go to the mall a few days ago on an errand, and Suzanna snuck along some of her own cash. When they arrived at the mall, Suzanna sent Susan on her way to one store while Suzanna hustled alone down to Bath and Body Works and perused the possibilities, finally settling on a collection of travel-sized sprays and lotions in a decorative basket. She also opted to buy a gift bag. Having made the selection and purchase all by herself, she was proud as can be and could hardly wait to tell me all about it. I wouldn't let her show me the gift, though, telling her that I wanted to be surprised and wait until Mommy opened it . . . and that about sent Suzanna into nervous ticks. For days she kept offering to sneak me a peak, but I politely declined. Ah, the torture; it was rich.
Anyhoo, Suzanna did a fine job of selecting a lovely basket and travel-sized products in a scent that Susan liked, and that gift was from all three girls. The kitchen items were from all four of us, as were three dozen flowers, too: roses, carnations, daisies, etc., mostly in shades of pink (except for the daisies). And of course there were the meals: supper last night at Applebee's, dinner today at Bonanza, and supper tonight courtesy of KFC. Yummo on all counts!
And then there were the special events. Last night Susan and I went to the new Star Trek movie . . . and it was terrific! This afternoon we went to a performance by Form & Fusion, the dance troupe at the university, and it, too, was very enjoyable. Other special events: Hillary's choir sang for church this morning, and tonight the girls had dance practice . . . yes, on Mother's Day. That inconvenient intrusion on our evening is what caused us to do our dining out last night and to do take-out chicken for supper tonight--so that we could wolf it down before having to shuttle the girls off to the dance studio. On Mother's Day. (Bitter much?)
All in all, though, it was a good celebration of Susan, who is a great mother and deserves the recognition.
P.S. Yesterday was the first lawn mowing of the spring. It has begun . . .
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Big mistake. Because I was there and visible, I was nominated, seconded, and voted unanimously onto a committee before I had even gotten comfortable in my seat. And this committee happens to be a one-person committee: the Committee on Committees, of which I am now the chair. It means that I am responsible for rounding up people to fill all the open slots on the various committees across campus. Yes, a committee whose purpose is to fill other committees. And a "committee" of which I am both the chair and the sole member. What an honor.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Megan stands alert with her eye on the ball.
Hillary hangs on Jeff and tests the strength of my back.
You see, we went to Fargo this weekend to attend the Billy Joel/Elton John concert at the Fargodome Saturday night, and Jeff and Janelle, who didn't intend to go to the concert themselves, were kind enough to agree to watch our kids for the evening. In the meantime, however, Jeff himself won tickets to the concert! So it ended up that they got a babysitter to stay at their house with all our kids, and they, too, went to the concert (although they weren't seated by us).
Since Jeff and Janelle wouldn't be going to the concert (originally), we had arranged to meet our friends from East Grand Forks, MN and go with them instead; and after supper, Jay, Erin, Nicole, and Jesse met us at the Fargodome to find our seats (we were seated together) and settle in. (While waiting at the Fargodome for them to arrive, Susan and I saw and visited with several people we know: some students and a coworker, Josh, from the university; a former coworker of mine, Pat, from East Grand Forks; and Bev and Wayne from Warren, MN. Susan used to teach with Bev, and she was one of several of Susan's coworkers who toured Europe with us about 14 years ago.)
It was a good concert: 3.5 hours of non-stop music! Billy and Elton started off playing piano and singing together; then Elton had a session alone; then Billy had a segment alone; and then they ended by playing together again. The downfall: the row of acting-younger-than-we-are ladies in front of us who were drunk and getting drunker throughout the night. They stood and swayed/danced through much of the concert (in between trips to the beer stand), blocking my view of the stage and even of the view screens hanging above the stage. Consequently, the experience overall was more like listening to a CD than watching a concert. The night ended well, though: we wrapped it up with adult beverages and Taco Bell takeout in Jay and Erin's hotel room before heading back to Jeff and Janelle's.
This morning Jeff and Janelle carted their family off to their Sunday morning church obligations, and we met Jay, Erin, Nicole, Jesse, and Nicole and Jesse's kids (Jay and Erin's kids were still with Jay's parents) at International House of Pancakes for brunch. After Jay and Erin picked up their kids, Erin and Susan went shopping while Jay and I took the kids out for frozen custard at Culver's and then to a park so that our kids could spend some time together, too. After we bid them adieu, we made it to Bismarck in time to have supper at Olive Garden. After a whirlwind weekend topped off with a satisfying meal, it was a very sleepy drive back to Dickinson!
Suzanna, Hillary, and Abigail pose outside the restaurant before the others arrive.
Hillary, McKenna with Mya, Suzanna, Abigail, and Ethan pose after brunch.
Hannah and Gabriel pose before frozen custard.