Sunday, December 28, 2008


What can I say? I have been at this computer far longer than originally planned. This was supposed to be a *spectacular Christmas wrap-up slide show and it stalled just as I was ready to click on SAVE NOW on the site. Argh!
You, dear reader, will just have to settle (mostly) for the written words, and not the picture *extravaganza. Hopefully, you will get the idea that this Christmas season was a very lovely one. It truly was.
C is for children. We were able to spend time with our own, as well as a couple of the "Greats" and younger nieces and nephews. They are wonderful, let me tell you!

H is for home. As in being here the whole time...Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In two phases, no less! It has been years since this has happened and we really, really liked it!

R is for remembering. The traditions of yesterday and making new ones for today add to the richness of celebration. This year was especially poignant for us as we remembered the life and times of our Mother -Vera Maxine Rosenquist Nelson.
I is for ice. And snow. We shoveled and scraped more than usual this holiday season...but it also meant that Wes and John could ski together one day!
S is for siblings. I'm glad ours love each other. And we were able to spend time with both of our sisters and their families this holiday season.
T is for time. It is a gift to be able to take time out from our busy lives to remember why we are celebrating. And having more time together is a gift, too.

M is for mail. We have loved getting updated with our friends and families in the many letters, picture greetings and cards. Isn't it fun to go to the mailbox and find it filled with those non-windowed envelopes!!

A is for Andersons. Diann, Larry, Ryan, Kurt, Denee, Ava, Ingrid, Kari, Don and Kass! Good times!

S is for Swedish Kringla. I made it twice this holiday season and it is delicious! (Love that almond flavoring.) All the other sweets of the season were enjoyed perhaps a bit too much.

So, here's to hoping your holidays were merry and bright as well. And now it's time to prepare for a new year, and all sorts of adventures to come!
*possible exaggeration here...sorry!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Having a Cat in the House Again

In June of 2008, our beloved cat Marshie passed away after living nearly 18 years. She was a sweet, mellow, gentle soul. Think of her as a feline Mr. Rogers. Now there's a temporary cat in our household - think of him as a feline Marley.
We are catsitting our little (??) Grandkitty Oliver these days and it is quite entertaining for these empty nesters who are only used to each other's company on a regular basis. Oliver is like Maria in the Sound of Music: "a flibbety jibbet, a will of a wisp, a clown."
We can be sitting watching TV or reading a paper and suddenly there will be a flash of cat leaping over our couch, running through the kitchen and leaping the couch again - Oliver puts Tom Cruise to shame here!
We can be laying in bed when pounce we have a cat landing on our chests.
We can be eating at the table when whoosh a cat is on the table.
We can be going out the front door when swish a cat is squeezing between our legs to get outside - snow or no snow.
We can be reading or watching TV when Oliver starts "talking!" He is telling us things, we just don't know what messages he is wishing to convey. We have figured out the short barking (yes, they almost sound like barks cat-style!) noises probably request going outside. (Being the firm Grand-moew and Grand-paw that we are, we refuse as Anne and Jed have strongly urged this directive to "Just say no.")
And the long verbage as in meow, meowwww, mmeow, meoww, mmow, mmmow probably translates to, "Hello, folks, how the heck are you doing today? I am fine, but I miss my folks, my toys, and by the way, has anyone seen my rattle mouse? If it wouldn't trouble you too much, could you immediately stop what you are doing and give me some more play time?"
And Oliver takes more naps than a newborn baby! And just as short as baby naps, too. We have found him all over the house napping in new spots almost hourly. In baskets, in our bed, under the tree, on the doesn't seem to be his style to nap in the same place twice! We find he doesn't sit much, but flops to lay down as if sitting is too tedious - getting right down to relaxation by laying down first.
Oliver is, of course, a challenge to take pictures of when he's awake as he is constantly moving. I have deleted more blurry furry pictures than usual. I have wanted to get a picture of him with his head poking out of the new "playhouse" we gave him for Christmas. Isn't it cute?
I have tried to get him inside and head poking out and finally yesterday I did it!
But, today something happened that Anne and Jed will not like. They told us to limit the amount of food Oliver puts in his chops as he has a bit of tendency for a spreading mid-section. I won't comment here that someone else in our household also has to deal with this.
We left out Oliver's treat bag that looks a lot like chocolate and butterscotch chips when neighbors Hannah and Emily came to visit and didn't zip lock the bag well enough apparently. Overnight, Oliver found the bag and had a party and now there is a full belly and a happy cat...but G and G are in trouble. Wes found a few scattered chips in rooms on the first floor.
We know we are going to miss him when he goes back to live with his parents! Can we catsit him again soon, please? He keeps us laughing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Playing THE Game

(Above: the "kids" after THE game has been played - don't they look happy? We celebrated early this year!)
Many, many years ago, Wes' Mom introduced a game to the family that we have now adopted as our own holiday tradition. You play this game after the Christmas presents are opened, usually on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve. It'a fun way to unwrap a few last presents and have some fun interacting with the group in a rowdy way. Keep in mind, this game is NOT fair - and that's part of the fun of it! Some have asked for directions in how to set up and play THE GAME (yes, that's how we refer to it as in, "Are we going to play THE game again this year?"). Here are the rules and directions:
1. This is NOT a White Elephant game. Little kids shouldn't play it as they could end up in tears because they could end up with nothing. The players do not contribute to the gift pile, and the gifts are mostly nice. The host usually provides and wraps the gifts. Always put in a chocolate or candy item! And putting a five (or more) dollar bill in the mix is a good thing, too! Some of the things in the gift pile this year: Trader Joe's Soyaki Sauce, date book, knit hat, glitter bottles, tape dispenser, Godiva Chocolates, etc.
2. The host wraps all the gifts and there are usually twice as many packages as players.
3. You will need two dice for this game.
4. Call your players together! Sit in a group with wrapped packages in the center of gathering.
5. Pick a player (let's say Anne) to begin rolling the dice. The first round of the game, all roll the dice. Roll the dice on a plate that can be passed from player to player. Any who roll a THREE can choose a gift from the pile and unwrap it for all to see. It is against the rules to shake, feel, or peek inside the package before selecting it. Keep the unwrapped item in view for all to see. If no one rolls a THREE the first round and it comes back to Anne, start round two with rolling THREE or FIVE to pick a gift from center. Keep going round and round adding all odd numbers up to ELEVEN. If a player gets, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 he/she may pick a gift either from center pile, or steal from someone else's stash. There is no trickle effect here - when someone steals your gift, it is theirs and you don't get to steal from anyone else! Yes, this means a player can have 5 gifts, while another has zero!
6. When all gifts from center pile have been taken, the host sets a timer and doesn't say how long it has been set for. Keep rolling to get 3's, 5's, 7's, 9's and 11's. And at breakneck speed! When the timer goes off the game is over - and whatever you end up with is yours. Sounds cut-throat? It is! (And a lot of times you work in tandem with your husband or sweetheart to get something they want and then you give it to them in the end and things get mushy so you can become their "hero.")
7. Like I said earlier, this is really not for little kids, but great for a gathering of pre-teens and older.
It's wonderful to be together for the holidays, isn't it? Playing games, eating too much food together, singing songs, sharing memories. I hope you and yours are having sweet times together, too!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why There Are Birds on Our Christmas Tree

Today would have been Mom's 87th birthday, and we continue to miss her in our lives. I come across pictures like the one above of picnicking on the grounds of her retirement center. Or the photo from her birthday just last year.

And sometimes, it is still hard to believe she is gone. That's why there are birds on our Christmas tree...they remind me of Mom. How she loved to watch (and listen) for birds. She could be having a tough day and we'd take her for a walk around her retirement center. Once she was outside, she knew the birds were there, too - darting and flitting about. Her favorites were the cardinals. Her spirits lifted as she tried to track the action at the feeders and trees by her feathered friends. Mom also had a lot of bird figurines around her home to reflect her love of birds.

When it came time to decorate for the holidays, I wanted to have memories of Mom at Christmas time -the month of her birth and also our first Christmas without her. Somehow the tree seemed the logical place for this. With birds on loan from the library art stash (used in a previous winter decor and borrowed with permission) and strands of berries, nuts and leaves plus some actual collected birds' nests I went to town with our tree. It may be my favorite one ever! (But, that's what I say every year.)

Savor the memories. You never know what is to come. Life is fragile. And birds sing. Miss you, Mom.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hallelujah! Finally Did This!

Check out this 1902 copy of the score, isn't it lovely? My seat partner owned this book.
Each year, we have dreamed of getting to sing along with Handel's Messiah. For this reason or that conflict, it just hasn't happened. Until 2008! When a flyer appeared that the local First Presbyterian Church was hosting the production on Sunday, December 14, we knew we could no longer make any excuses...the time had come!
It was fabulous. Inspiring. Wonderful. (Even though those high notes for sopranos are really high. Wes sang bass due to the high notes for tenors, too.)
King of Kings
Lord of Lords
Almighty God
The Everlasting Father
The Prince of Peace
May this message be a song in your heart as well during this Christmas season!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

13 + 72 = 10

First of all, I'd like to wish you all a very happy Sankta Lucia day! We Swedes have adopted this Italian miss as our own. To celebrate, we get to eat delicious Lucia buns and, if we're especially lucky, will gather to make korv and feast on Smorgasbord fare: meatballs, herring, boiled potatoes, cheeses, limpa and cardamom bread, hard tack, rice pudding, lingonberries, pepparkaker, and that tasty glogg.
Best of all for our family this means the annual korv-making party at my sister's home! This is one of the holiday favorites for us to gather with friends and family of all ages, eat to capacity, laugh often, work on making the korv sausage (cutting potatoes and onions, mixing seasonings of spices, grinding meat and pushing it into tubes) and meeting/making new friends with an ever expanding guest roster.
So, let me explain the number equation at the top: the 13 is for December 13 - Lucia Day.
The 72 is for pounds of korv made - can you believe it? And the 10 represents the perfect score of ten out of can't do better than this. It was a perfect day (kicked off by a breakfast with Kass and Don, Kari's parents in town for the weekend) and now you get to see what I'm talking about!
The Smorgasbord Table.
The Queen Bees (My sister on the left)

Some of the Worker Bees

Future Worker Bees? (Two of our "Greats" in the top picture: Ingrid and Ava...aren't they cute?) This is the sight at the front door that causes a smile. Nothing like a party where you don't have to wear your shoes!! Thanks again, Diann and Larry for another perfect party!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Best Seat in the House

Today I was reminded again of why I like my job so much... it's the kids! And because I am a storyteller at the library, and two year olds (with caregiver) are the audience, I truly feel like I have the best seat in the house as I get to watch their expressions with stories, songs, flannelboards, crafts and music activites! Everything is so new to these little ones, and exciting to boot. You'd have thought they were rolling real snowballs, making real snowpals, and having a real snowball fight. You'd have thought they were hearing a story for the first time as they were read the story of Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. Or that their little eyes would pop out with the pop outs of The Snowmen Pop-Up Book by Carolyn Buehner. (The tale is about what snowmen do when it's night time and you're asleep. Hopefully asleep.) And, who would think that a flannelboard poem about 'Five little snowpals riding on a fell off and bumped his head' would cause laughter out loud? And, how on earth those pieces can stick to a felt board is always a mystery to these little ones. Or how having a snowball fight inside the library (holding using a large white tablecloth by the hands, then bouncing the styrofoam balls off of it) is almost as good as having one outside minus the winter garb and not getting hurt when hit in the head? No tears today! Then, the ringing of sleigh bells. You can imagine the horses in the snow pulling you along, right? Finally, the young artists got to work making a "snow" of white Ivory Snow powder with a bit of water to finger paint on a snowman cutout. Sprinkling glitter on this wet mix is the final touch...EVERYTHING works better with glitter is a craft mantra in my opinion. Sorry, due to privacy issues, I can post no pictures of what actually went on with the 40 in the audience today, but I can assure you that the best seat in the house was mine!!! To think...I actually get paid for doing this job! Lucky me. (Thanks for the Starbucks gift card mittens, Anne! I knew they could be used somehow!)