Monday, May 30, 2011

Rainy Memorial Day Remembering and Partying

This has been the rainiest, chilliest May in a long time.  It continues to drizzle outside, and a cold wind is still blowing.  This has gone on for days.  It made for an unpleasant trip to the cemetery today to visit Susan's mom's grave for Memorial Day, and it drove us indoors for a barbecue that we were invited to attend at our friends' house.  First, the photos:

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Very Roloff Sunday

Faithful Reader, I told you yesterday that this morning would be an early one for me, and now I'll tell you why: the girls and I got up around 5:00 A.M. to head north and visit my relatives' graves, and decorate my mom's, for Memorial Day.  Each year my sisters and I take turns providing flowers for Mom's grave, and this year was my turn.  Susan stayed behind to attend the commencement ceremony this afternoon at the school where she teaches (and is a senior class advisor), so it was a trip for just the girls and me today.  In addition to visiting cemeteries, we also visited out-of-state relatives who are in Williston for a few days.  All the details--and photos, naturally--are here:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Little Guests at the Scandinavian Supper Table

Faithful Reader, you must recall that I teased yesterday that we had some baby-related fun scheduled for today.  Well, Susan's cousin Todd and his wife arranged for us to babysit their kids overnight.  Trae (three years old) and Tatum (nine months old) arrived this afternoon and will get picked up in the morning.  Trae has spent the night with us before (remember this and this?), the second time getting to join us for a Scandinavian Saturday supper--just like tonight!  However, I chose a menu this time around that seemed more kid-friendly (well, to non-Moberg kids, that is--you just never know how adventurous others' kids will be), and Trae ate it all up!

Click on any photo to enlarge it for more tantalizing viewing.
To find out what everything is--and to see dessert--read on:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friends and Family on Friday

Suzanna was invited to a friend's birthday sleepover . . . in Rapid City, SD!  Our friends are taking their daughter there overnight for a birthday treat, and she invited Suzanna to join her.  Their family picked up Suzanna around 7:00 A.M., and they'll return tomorrow night.

Shortly after Suzanna left, so did we.  We went to Mandan, ND to see our friends Travis and Sedie, who live in MA but are visiting Travis' parents at their farm outside Mandan.  We met up with Travis and Sedie last year over Memorial Day weekend and again in July.  But this year, they have something that they didn't when we saw them last year:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Indoor Picnic

Susan and her friend Leslie teach together and, since last year, have been in charge of organizing the end-of-year faculty picnic for their school.  Both last year and tonight, the event was held in the Recreation Center, which was great because, although one thinks of "outdoors" when one think of "picnic," one is delighted to be indoors when the weather is cold and rainy, as it was both last year and tonight.  They gather door prizes, decorate the tables, and prepare food and beverages.  This year's menu was fajitas and tacos, and Susan has spent the last several days making the meat.  The crockpot has been full of seasoned chicken breasts, which she has then shredded and replaced with a new batch; and both she and Suzanna have taken turns frying up batches of spicy ground beef.  Consequently, we have all smelled like a Mexican restaurant just from walking through our kitchen.  But the food tonight was delicious, and the company was fun (Susan is friends with smart and funny people from work).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Household of Smarties

The girls attend three different schools; but at each building, the school year ended with the distribution of awards.  Abigail's school gave out awards yesterday, and Suzanna and Hillary's schools did so today.  Each girl won the President's Award for Educational Excellence "in recognition of Outstanding Academic Excellence."  They're very good students, so we weren't surprised--but we are surely proud and want the girls to be proud of themselves.  Reading so much, studying, respecting teachers, putting forth effort in the classroom . . . they pay off in good grades and occasional recognitions such as this award.  (Daddy is hoping for another sort of payoff: full scholarships when it comes time to apply to universities.  Keep studying, girls!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Substitute Accompanist

Today I had another first at church: first time accompanying the adult choir.  Michael, the senior choir's director, teaches at the high school with Susan and asked her a couple days ago whether she thought I'd be willing to do that (their usual accompanist was going to be unavailable today).  So she brought home the music, I practiced it a few times, and I met the choir about 45 minutes before church this morning to run through it with them.  I watched his conducting very carefully; and at one point, he chastised the choir for not slowing down at a particular measure marked ritardando: "The conductor and the accompanist are ritard-ing, but the choir is not."  So I must have been doing something right!  It seemed to go well when they sang it during the church service, too.  It reminded me of my teen days as a church organist and an accompanist for high school choir.  Ah, memories.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Norwegian Pride, Swedish Food, and Norse Mythology

Norwegians celebrated Syttende Mai ["May 17th," Norway's Constitution Day] a few days ago (remember?), but our local Sons of Norway lodge waited until today for its annual Syttende Mai party so that we could take advantage of a weekend day to have a potluck picnic and play some outdoor games.  As Youth Director for our lodge, I was trying to figure out what I could do with the kids that would be Norwegian and fun.

I learned that Norwegians typically precede Syttende Mai with a community-wide dugnad ["volunteering"], tidying up the neighborhood before the big celebrations for Constitution Day--so I proposed the idea to the girls, who were "into" the idea of picking up garbage.  A Syttende Mai celebration usually features a barnetog ["children's parade"], and the girls were willing to do their best to put on a three-person parade; they have miniature Norwegian flags that they could wave, and they proposed wearing bathrobes instead of bunads [literally "costumes," but really they're traditional forms of dress that correspond to distinct regions in Norway; see this].

None of that came to pass, though, because the picnic was canceled on account of rain.  A continuation of days and days and days of rain, as a matter of fact.  The lodge president phoned this morning and said that we'll just have to make our Sankthansaften ["St. John's Eve," a Midsummer's Eve celebration; see this] picnic next month all the grander to make up for it.

But we made today a very Scandinavian-themed day anyway.  This is what we did:

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'm a Superstar

As members of the Sons of Norway, we receive a monthly magazine called Viking, which we like a lot.  The June issue arrived in our mailbox today, and look what I discovered on the page dedicated to news about events from our particular district:

What's that?  You don't see anything particularly notable?  Well, let me zoom in for you:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finale Concert

"Why won't Abigail stop taking my picture?!"
Suzanna's final music concert as a seventh-grader was tonight.  She played in the seventh-grade band, and later the seventh- and eighth-grade bands combined to perform a few numbers from their marching band repertoire.  Those were Suzanna's favorite numbers, so I'll share them with you, too:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Piano and Pizza

Susan returned yesterday!  (If you need to, start here and work your way backward a few days to know where she was.)  She brought gifts, too: bookmarks and pads of Poo Poo Paper for the girls, and for me a tart pan from Scandinavian store Ikea.  It's good to have her back.

Tonight we ate supper at church.  We gathered for the annual end-of-year talent night and pizza party for kids who participated in the children's choir (remember last year's?).  This was Abigail's last year being in the right age range for the children's choirs, but she didn't seem too traumatized by the transition.  She and Hillary each played piano solos, and they also sang a duet version of "Amazing Grace."  Other kids' talent included balancing acts, a violin solo, and magic tricks.  More pizza was ordered than was consumed, so we even came home with leftovers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Syttende Mai

Today is Syttende Mai ["the 17th of May," Norwegian Constitution Day]!  Gratulerer med dagen ["Congratulations on the day"]!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Daddy's Home!

Many thanks to Grandpa Gustafson for staying with the girls last night through this evening!  He got them to/from their piano recital last night, school this morning, and swimming practice after school.  In exchange, they made his meals and showered him with affection.  Fair trade.

I spent the day driving around northeast Minneapolis, MN with my colleague Dawn (remember?).  We visited with school administrators from an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school, all with highly diverse student populations (i.e., 80-90% of the students speak English as a second or third language and come from low-income families).  We would like to take our own teacher education students to these three schools for experience working with students in settings featuring urban diversity, something they don't get much of in Western ND!  The Minneapolis schools were receptive, so we will move ahead with this initiative in the coming months.

I came home tonight to find the sweetest thing awaiting me:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Parentless Pianists

Now, not only must the girls survive without Susan around (remember this and this?), but they must also do without me!  After Sunday school this morning, I left town with a colleague to drive to Bismarck, ND to fly from their airport to Minneapolis, MN for work-related appointments there tomorrow (more on that later).  That meant leaving the girls in the care of Susan's dad today through tomorrow evening.  The girls are pretty self-sufficient, taking care of meals for Grandpa and getting themselves ready for school tomorrow (and they did all the laundry and cleaned the house yesterday while I made Scandinavian Saturday supper).  But they can't drive (yet), and their piano recital was scheduled for tonight (while both Susan and I were gone).  So Grandpa took them!

They captured the performances on video, too.  Wanna see/hear?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scandinavian Recipe Redux

Without Susan here this weekend (remember?), the girls had to spend the morning alone as I attended the university's commencement ceremony.  After the speeches had ended and the reading of the pages and pages and pages of graduates' names had begun, I zoned out a bit until I heard my own last name read aloud!  I looked up to see my cousin Joel's daughter Michaela walking across the stage.  Then I looked over toward her cheering section in the bleachers, and sure enough, there were my uncle and my cousins!  My cousin Myrna must have spotted me earlier because she had her eyes on me when I looked up and scanned the bleachers, and she grinned and waved!  What a fun surprise.  Michaela got her degree through our Bismarck campus, so I hadn't even recalled that she was a student of ours--therefore, it didn't occur to me that I would see relatives today (albeit only from afar).

And that wasn't the end of the day's activities . . .

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Weekend Without Susan

The girls and I are Susan-less for the weekend!  Yesterday she drove to Mandan to spend the night at her brother Jerrett's place so that she could get up early this morning and fly out of Bismarck to their sister Cassie's place in SC.  Cassie and her husband Nick recently had a second child (remember?), and Susan is there to meet the baby (Marly Sue) and spoil her and her brother Davis for a few days.  Wanna see Marly?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Can Confirm that We Were at Church Tonight

I'm done!  Done giving and grading final exams!  Oh, sure, there are a few end-of-the-year items still to tend to, but this point is always a major milestone in any semester.

Speaking of milestones: Tonight we attended informational meetings for two of our daughters on the confirmation program at church.  One meeting was for next year's seventh-graders, who will just be starting the program; the other was for next year's eighth-graders, who will just be wrapping it up.  We took Abigail to the first one and Suzanna to the second one.  Because we had done this last year for Suzanna (remember?), we pretty much knew what to expect.  Still, it was exciting for Abigail to learn the details and get her questions answered.

Why must these children continue to grow older?!  Soon they'll be out of the house, and Susan and I will be weeping daily.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Eating Our Way Through Another Mother's Day

Because we had plans to dine out with friends last night, I postponed our weekly ethnic meal to today, making it a Scandinavian Sunday instead.  It was Susan's turn to be my helper, but I opted to cook alone and prepare a nice Mother's Day breakfast for her and the girls.  Here's what I made:

Click the photo to see the tasty food in greater detail.
To find out what it all is--and what else we did today--read on:

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Professional Musicians, Good Food, and Wine with Chocolate

No Scandinavian Saturday supper again this week!  Our day was just too full of other things to do.  Here were the three main events:

First, our entire family was hired to provide music for a wedding service this afternoon at a local Catholic church.  The bride's stepdad attends our church, at which her mom heard Susan and the girls sing one Sunday.  She recommended the ladies to her daughter, who came to our house one morning with her fiancĂ© to hear them sing and to get ideas for song options (remember?).  I played the piano while Susan and the girls sang that day, so the bride and groom ended up asking us all to provide music today: I played piano for the service and accompanied Susan and the girls, who sang the songs for the wedding.  It was our daughters' first time as wedding musicians (and they got paid, too!), and it brought back memories of the hundreds of weddings for which my sisters and I sang, played piano, or played organ during our high school years.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Regrets and Congratulations, Rachelle and Winston

My stepniece Rachelle and her new husband Winston got married last week in CA, where he's from, and scheduled subsequent wedding receptions for this weekend in ND (where she's from) and next weekend in Washington, DC (where they met and will live).  Our family was planning to attend their reception yesterday in Minot, ND, and Suzanna was even going to be stationed at the punch bowl (such a big girl now!).

Unfortunately, ND's wacky winter weather continues: a major blizzard hit this side of the state, shutting down roads and keeping us at home.  Many other guests couldn't travel, either, so they hurriedly rescheduled the event for today . . . but we couldn't make it in time after Susan had fulfilled her job duties at church this morning (she's the Sunday school director).  We're hoping to see photos, at least, the next time that we visit my stepbrother and his wife.  In the meantime, congratulations, Rachelle and Winston!  Here's hoping for perfect weather next weekend in DC!

P.S.  Because we were planning to be in Minot, I didn't plan a Scandinavian Saturday meal for yesterday.  And because the weather was terrible, I didn't venture forth yesterday to buy groceries for an ethnic supper.  I'll try again next weekend.