Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Get ready for the ride of your life!"

One of the blessings of living in a well-populated area of the tundra is that developers are smart enough to build things for people to do in the winter. Like an amusement park in the mall. So we took advantage of the weeknight discount wristband and rode to our hearts' content the other night. This is a most rare treat!  Our kids have arrived at the age where they will ride the vast majority of the rides that we want to ride--very fun.  These are the wonder years, I tell you!

Bethany got us on the roller coaster right away. As it made its initial ascent, she would throw her hands up in the air and announce, "Get ready for the ride of your life!" She would pretend to be nervous beforehand, but there is no fear in our high-adventure girl! Her favorite ride was the giant swings. While I kept my eyes glued on her to keep from getting sick, she had her arms and legs outstretched wide like she was flying, and giggled her head off the whole time.

Ben found some courage he hadn't discovered before--an unanticipated benefit of having the chance to ride over and over. After all, there is no courage without at least a little fear. He was not to be outdone by his sister. It was fun to see him as eager as she was to ride the big rides by the end of the night.  

We reserved the biggest for Lee, however. I reasoned that we had to be sure someone would be able to drive home. He reported that it was exciting, smooth, and just a little nauseating. Maybe I'll try it next time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bambi Returns

So here's "the rest of the story".  Yes, we have seen Bambi and friends a couple of times.  We don't have any really good pictures because they have to be taken through the kitchen window which may or may not be clean.  Although we live in the suburbs of a large metro area, we do live very near a county park preserve, which encourages a lot of wildlife.  We especially see a lot of birds, even an occasional bald eagle. We even saw a fox in our yard one time.

If you haven't met Thumper yet, click here, or here. The Thumper family has taken up residence en masse in the backyards on our block.  We hope they are busy making plans to move out.  Soon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: It's Grand Central Station Around Here!

(Well, maybe just a few words. Humor me.)

Apparently the word has gotten out that our house is a happening place. Bambi and Thumper obviously got the memo and decided to invite all their friends over for a party.  They didn't invite us, but at least they left their autographs.



I guess all the excitement was too much for poor Bambi, who had to take a rest.

Looks like a lively time was had by all.

I hope they realize that when gardening time comes, the party's over.

Monday, February 23, 2009

By Special Request: Lefse Recipe

I was quite surprised that some of you wanted the actual recipe to go with those pictures on my last post.  I am not going to post the pictures again, so you will have to scroll down for those.

Here goes...



3 c. potato flakes
1c. dry milk
1 2/3 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar

Bring to a boil 3 cups water and 1 stick margarine.  Pour over dry ingredients and mix. REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT.

Next day:

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, cutting in with pastry blender or knead in with your hands. Take piece of dough the size of an egg and roll on well-floured pastry cloth as for pie crust, rolling as thin as possible with the lefse rolling pin.  (It's a special rolling pin, which I cover with a special sock that I can throw in the wash. You can't wash the rolling pin, you have to use a brush to clean it otherwise.  You could possibly get away with a regular rolling pin with the special sock cover.) Cook on top of lefse grill preheated to 425º.  Turn with lefse turner when brown spots appear. Place lefse between cloths to keep it from drying out.  Serve warm with butter and sugar or brown sugar--cinnamon is good too.  Roll it up and enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back to my roots (which rhymes with "puts", don'tcha know)

Today Bethany asked me to make some lefse (that's LEF-suh for you non-Scandehuvian types). I'd been meaning to do this for quite awhile anyway, and a Saturday with no plans was the perfect time.

My Great-Grandma and Grandpa Nerison came over on The Boat from Norway, so I think I automatically inherited lefse-loving genes. I'm told that Grandma N. made it, but I can't say I remember it. She was the first to let me pick two squares out of her fabric box and show me how to sew them together, though. I definitely remember that.

Anyway, the only lefse I ever remember eating was store bought--Mrs. Olson's, to be exact. I wonder what Grandma thought of that! At any rate, considering that I went out of my way to embrace my heritage by actually buying a lefse griddle with our wedding money and learning how to make it, she would probably forgive me for the fact that I use the recipe that calls for instant mashed potatoes instead of fresh.

A friend and colleague of mine volunteered her mom to teach a bunch of us how make it one day after school. Apparently all da Norwegian ladies made it wit der leftover mashed potatoes, which I s'pose dey had purt' near every night. Ya, let's just say I purt' near never have leftover mashed potatoes. Uff da, dat's too much work! So the instant is perfect for me!

To think that I never ate lefse warm when I was young, and I loved it even then! Now when we put the butter and brown sugar on it, and it all melts together when we roll it up, it is like a little piece of heaven! It sure is fun to imagine Grandma up there watching.

Here, you should try a bite. It's scrumptious!

Oh, and one more thing. All this lefse talk has me thinking about listening to Boone and Erickson on WCCO when we were kids, with all their Sven and Ole jokes. I don't remember any of those, but I do remember the time when Ole moved across the border to Iowa. It raised the average IQ in both states, we were told. Ya, you betcha.

Note:  Since this posting we have made a video and posted a recipe.  Lefse 101

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

...He Loves Me!

"The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

If you were with me for my little "Different Packages" mini-series about my kids (Ben and Bethany), hopefully you'll recognize this as the missing conclusion. It's not like I've never gushed over my kids before on my blog. I'd hate to try to confine myself to once a year on their birthdays or something crazy like that.  Because every time they come up with some new way of expressing themselves, and the people they are becoming, it just knocks my socks off.

I love the verses above from Zephaniah, written to God's people to remind them that he is a God of purpose and redemption. That though as their Father he must discipline them, his intent is always to restore and heal, and make his relationship with them even sweeter than before. Seriously, can you imagine what it would sound like to hear God singing for joy?  Over YOU??

I have learned so much about the way God looks at me from the pleasure I have in watching my kids. Rick Warren says it well in his bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life:
"You may feel that the only time God is pleased with you is when you're doing 'spiritual' activities--like reading the Bible, attending church, praying, or sharing your faith. And you may think God is unconcerned about the other parts of your life. Actually, God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether you are working, playing, resting, or eating.  He doesn't miss a single move you make." (p. 74)
I love to imagine God watching me and smiling when I am taking pictures of the world he made (and seeing it through new eyes as a result), making ridiculously labor-intensive (but cute!) Valentine treats, thinking my way through a blog post, pondering with Lee how to deal with our kids' latest issues, struggling over how to do a better job in an area where I am not measuring up to my own expectations.

I admit that sometimes I live dangerously close to my boundaries...

...but when I turn and look in God's eyes long enough to rediscover that connection, I love to do the right thing, because I know it pleases him.

If you haven't looked God in the eye lately, don't wait another minute.  Your Creator is crazy about you!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Fragments

I've seen a few people doing Friday Fragments out and about the blogosphere, and they are usually a crackup. Where's My Angels does them from time to time, and they are quite the little slice of life. I sometimes think I should do that, but the chances of it occurring to me on a Friday are slim to none.  But today, fragmented seems like a perfect fit.  So here we go...
My posts about my two kids with different packages were actually going somewhere.  I had a nice post in mind to wrap it all up, but then I had a brain freeze.  Eventually there will be a part four.
The brain freeze started yesterday morning when I sat up in bed and discovered how ccccold it was in our house.  Lee works from home nine days out of ten (at least), but as luck would have it, yesterday was the day he went in. And wouldn't you know, he jumped out of bed, threw his clothes on and headed out the door, without realizing he was even cold, minutes before the kids and I got up.  So Ben's in the kitchen getting breakfast and I'm staring at a blank thermostat.  I can surely put a new battery in this thing, I think to myself.  So I start trying to figure out how to open it, and think that maybe I should call Lee just in case there are any pitfalls to avoid.  So I dial him on speed dial and hear, "Ring, Ring".  It wasn't in my earpiece.  It was his phone. On the table.  In the bedroom.  So much for getting any help here.  

Let me just say that at this moment my inner Pollyanna was not glad.  Not even a little bit.  I must have growled or something because from the kitchen I hear, "Mom, it's ok, we'll be fine.   Some people can't even afford heat so they're cold all the time."  Just then, two completely divergent thoughts ran simultaneously through my head.  One was, "Are you crazy quoting me back to myself at a time like this?  Don't you know you're taking your life into your own hands??" The second one was, "Yeah, I know, and thank God this didn't happen three weeks ago when it was -30ºF." And amazingly I only spoke the latter.  But I think I growled again afterwards.
To make a long story short, the furnace issue was resolved around 10:00 this morning. The temperature registered 54ºF. (Which, in February, is honestly pretty good for 30+ hours with no heat.) I went to bed last night at 9:00 because we have a heated mattress pad, and I didn't care to be anywhere else in the house.  Normally I would have taken my laptop into my bedroom and settled in contentedly, but it happens that for the past few weeks my wireless card has been broken.  Fortunately, someone in our neighborhood has a wireless service that I can pick up from my dining room, so I've had continuous free service the whole time.  That is amazing!  Unfortunately, I can't access it from anywhere else in my house. Until the heat went out, resolving the wireless card issue was at the top of the to do list. I really want it back.
My agenda for yesterday and today had been to make a special Valentine treat and I was not about to be deterred by a little cold air. After all, that's what I planned to give my kids' teachers, along with my family and a few other people. So I visited Bakerella, recommended by Jenna C. of Christmas Cake Ball fame. I knew I could count on her! She did not disappoint, but I knew immediately the decorator frostings would have to be replaced by sprinkles. She is FAN-CY! Mine look like this.

In case you were wondering how to get shapes, I pressed the mixed together cake dough into a pan evenly and used a cookie cutter.  Voila!  

Does this plaque resonate with anyone???  
Actually, my favorite help is when they 
all leave me alone in the kitchen.

Let me just say that if you are using melted candy coating in a kitchen that is colder than 60º, you'll have to melt it again frequently. The chocolate was much more forgiving than the vanilla for some reason plus imperfections don't show up as easily.  I was quite happy with the final product although I may or may not have had to eat a few that didn't turn out "just so".

If anybody sees Pollyanna, will you please tell her it's safe to come home now?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Girl

Meet Bethany.  Age 7.  Sweet thing.

Maker of friends.

Daring, high adventure girl.

Explorer of boundaries.

Attentive to detail.  Take note:

Bethany's Fancy Sandwiches

Carefully selected shapes.

Variety of fillings.

Presentation is everything. (Note color coordination.)
Her Grandma Rae would be proud. :-)

I'm crazy about her.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

My Boy

Meet Ben.  Age 9.  All boy.  

Lover of cats.  Especially wildcats.  Most especially tigers.  But most any animal will do in a pinch.

Lover of sports. Especially baseball. But hey, it's been football season, and he's always in on the action. If it's what's going on, it's his favorite sport.

Intense competitor. Most of the time his great strength. 

Detail guy since birth. Creative. Full of ideas.  Observe:

Coach Ben's Football Play Book

The Offense

The Defense
(Gotta love "Good Grief" and "Sneaky")

Special Teams

The Lineup

All-Star Team

My Favorite Player

Probably more likely to be destined for greatness...

...or is it this one?

Yes, definitely this one.  I adore him.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Different Packages

Watching my kids and learning about their uniquenesses (Blogger says that's not a word, but I'm sticking with it) is one of my all time favorite pastimes. At times I look at them and feel as though I'm looking in a mirror--or Lee's mirror--but at other times they are a total mystery. I love that. Sometimes they act so similarly to one another, but at other times, their differences couldn't be more glaring obvious. This, too, is a good thing.  

If I learned one thing in fifteen years of teaching, it was that each child comes with his or her own package. I taught quite a few siblings, and more often than not, they were as different as night and day. So it is no surprise that this is the case with my own. I am grateful that they leave no opportunity for comparison. 

I hope you'll come back and indulge me stay tuned as I return to spend a little time reveling in the treasure that is each one of my kids. 

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:14

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, Hot Tub Lizzy!

Today is Hot Tub Lizzy's birthday, and we are having a surprise party for her!

Lizzy is one of my blogging friends whom I've never met in real life.  It's funny, though, because if I did, it would not seem like we've never met--it would be like picking right back up where we left off.

Lately I've seen tons of people doing the tag "25 Random Things".  I haven't had much inspiration to write 25 random things about myself, so in honor of Lizzy, I'm writing 25 Random Things about her.  (If you click on the links, you will have lots of fun getting to know her, if you don't already.)  Here goes:  

25 Random Things that I love about Hot Tub Lizzy

1.  She is from my home state.
2.  She recognizes where some of my pictures are from.
3.  She knows what Uff Da means!
4.  You never know when you visit Lizzy whether you will laugh or cry.
5.  However, she is nice enough to give Tissue Warnings.
6.  She says stuff I would want to say but wouldn't, because I would worry about what people might think.
7.  It's easy to think of random things when you think of Lizzy, because if she is anything, it's random.
8.  I don't think she'll be offended by me calling her random.
9.  She would give you the shirt off her back.
10.  She demonstrates honesty and humility in the midst of adversity.
11.  When she prays, she talks to God as though he's going to talk right back to her.
12.  She is a fabulous artiste.
13.  She adores her girls.
14.  She never loses her sense of humor.
15.  She knows exactly how to play "Duck, duck, Gray Duck!"
16.  She knows a great blog when she sees one.
17.  When she becomes president, I'm going to get an inside view of the White House.
18.  She is willing to take the long way if she can get some good pictures out of the deal.
19.  She has an amazing memory, and a gift for retelling the stories of her heritage.
21.  She leans on God in the tough times instead of blaming him.
23.  She doesn't get all hung up on dotting i's and crossing t's, so she would want me to go to bed now instead of being determined to do 24 and 25.

Happy Birthday Lizzy!  You help make the blogosphere a beautiful place!

Queen of the Blogosphere
February 5, 2009

(Click here for a yummy birthday treat!)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Table Talk

This morning at breakfast...

Bethany (studying cereal box): Ben, don't you think it should be Start Smart?

Ben:  Dad says it should be Intelligent Beginning.

Bethany:  I don't think that would fit on the box.

Ben:  That's what I told him.