Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Grizzly Mama's Tag

My homeschooling pal, Monica, over at Grizzly Mama tagged me with this before Christmas. I had already prepared several posts for Christmas in case I didn't have time to post (I didn't). I got tagged with something similar a while back, but this one is a bit different. Here goes....

7 Things you plan to do before you die.

1. Learn more computer stuff.
2. Have all the rooms in my house clean at the same time!
3. Meet my husband's brother that was adopted out.
4. Write a book. Probably a how-to book.
5. Build a garage.
6. Finish painting our house.
7. Teach my guys how to close the toilet seat!

7 Things you can't do.

1. Sing
2. Play an instrument.
4. Ride amusement park rides
5. Be unfaithful
6. Lie
7. Run a circular saw.

7 Things you say most.

1. Are you ready to order?
2. Thank you.
3. I know.
4. Shit.(I say this so often that our dog answers to Shithead)
5. What?
6. Hairry!
7. Deal with it!

7 Things that attract me to homeschooling.

1. Our son's self-esteem and outlook on life has improved 200% since we started homeschooling!
2. We can teach history chronologically.
3. My husband has been able to take 1/2 the load of Z's schooling.
4. We ALL enjoy the wonderful discussions that come up in Z's studies.
5. Z has learned that the world is a classroom and learning NEVER ends.
6. Z is learning to overcome his learning disabilities in unique ways.
7. I don't have to deal with the school system on a daily basis. A LOT less STRESS!!!

7 Books (or series) I love

1. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series
2. Harry Potter
3. Frenchman's Creek-Daphne du Maurier
4. James Michener
5. Robert H. Heinlein
6. John Jakes
7. The Far Pavilions

7 Movies I watch over and over.

1. Quigley Down Under
2. Big Jake
3. McLintock
4. Nat'l Lampoon's Vacation series
5. What's Up Doc
6. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
7. Leave Her to Heaven

Since it's still the Holiday Season AND I don't know any other homeschooling bloggers; I'll be kind and not tag anyone.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

May the PEACE which passes ALL understanding....

Hand painted by L

Friday, December 23, 2005

We Created a MONSTER!

This little church

My Mom bought this plastic, lite-up church with stained glass windows for L and I, 25 yrs ago. L loved the lite-up church that my Grandma had given to my parents, so my Mom found this at an after Christmas sale at Woolco for $.99. The following year I got him the ceramic house on the right.

Our entire family soon discovered that L loved these lite-up ceramic village houses.

Led to this

L's sister-in-law gave him the house on the left AND several others over the years. I gave him the church on the right for Christmas, after he whined and whined AND WHINED for it!

And this

Eventually the kids got involved and started giving L little people and other accessories for his villages.


Mini houses

We also received several battery and candle-powered mini-houses. These have found a home in our bedroom. I think the new blue wall sets them off quite nicely.

MORE mini houses

Several years ago we and L's brother's families mutually agreed to stop exchanging gifts. Thank heavens! We're out of shelf space.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Poll

Star or Angel?

As we all prepare to celebrate Christmas with family and friends, I'm curious how my blogfriends celebrate.
Most of you know that L had NO Christmas traditions to incorporate into our family. From what I hear, this saved us a LOT of fights. He was more than willing to celebrate Christmas the way I always had.
Please share YOUR stories by answering the questions below.
Is your tree topped with a star or an angel?
As you can see from the picture above, our tree is topped with a star. We went through several multi-light stars that literally went up in a puff of smoke. As I've said before, tree lights don't like us! I found this single bulb star about 20 yrs ago and haven't had to change the bulb on it once!
Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Morning?
My Mom's family opened gifts Christmas Eve, my Dad's on Christmas morning. We always opened our gifts Christmas Eve(guess who won that fight?). Christmas Eve we have my parents over for a dinner of turkey noodle soup, lefse, and rommegrot for dessert. After dinner, the youngest member of the family reads the Christmas story from the Bible, then we open gifts. Santa fills the stockings for Christmas morning, but all the rest of our gifts are from each other.
How has your family compromised about whose traditions would be adopted in your family?
L adopted all of my traditions. We have since added many of our own traditions.
What do you eat for Christmas dinner?
We go to my parent's house around noon for a fabulous spread of munchies. Then we play games and entertain friends until dinner-turkey with all the trimmings.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Too Damned BIG!

Our Tree of Memories

We purchased our first artificial tree when our local "cut your own" tree farmers retired. This was around 24 yrs ago. Our first fake tree was six feet tall and long needled. We prefer a short needled tree, but it was all there was back then. 15 yrs ago I spotted my dream tree in the window of a local hardware store. The next day, I showed it to L, who immediately fell in love with it. That tree was 7.5 ft tall, short needled, and beautifully bushy.

I've always loved big, bushy, Christmas trees. My Dad and I used to fight about this EVERY year, when I was growing up. Our house had a narrow living room. I would find the fattest tree in the lot, and my Dad would say: "That tree is too damned big! If we bought that tree, we wouldn't be able to sit on the couch." So my parents and I would haggle until we found a tree that sort of satisfied me, AND would allow walking room between the tree and the couch.

The first time my Dad saw our "dream tree" proudly displayed in our living room, he said: "You finally got what you wanted; a tree that's too damned big!"

Two yrs ago, our "dream tree" was on it's last legs. The plastic branch hangers were wearing thin, and the branch ends kept falling off. L, Z, and I made a trip to Menards and L immediately fell in love with HIS "dream tree". This tree is also 7.5 ft tall with 2200 tips. It's branches go all the way to the floor, so our presents have to be arranged AROUND the tree, rather than UNDER it. L should have got the hint when it took 3 stock boys to carry the box to our truck. After Christmas, we found that we couldn't lift the tree into the attic of our shed. We had to divide it into 2 boxes AND a zippered tree bag! It IS a gorgeous tree, though, and we all enjoy it's beauty.

Favorite Store-Bought Ornament

We decorate our tree in a traditional style. We like multi-colored lights, garland, and the same ornaments every year. Each of our ornaments has a story associated with it. My parents give the kids an ornament every year. SME's godparents also gave her an ornament for her first 18 Christmases. We also buy the kids an occasional ornament that they find special. We gave SME a tree, lights, star, and garland as a wedding gift. This gave her a touch of home, her first Christmas away from home, complete with her own tree and ornaments. Fortunately she got custody of the tree when she divorced.

The little mouse reading in his matchbox bed is L and my favorite purchased ornament. I got him on sale for $1.99 at Kmart several years ago.

Favorite Z Ornament

Z made this popsicle-stick snowflake in 2nd grade. The cute face on the snowflake doesn't show up very well in the photo, but it ALWAYS brings a smile to our faces.

Favorite SME Ornament

SME made us this patchwork ball in 5th or 6th grade. It's a true symbol of our homemade Christmases.
The crocheted snowflake to the right of SME's, is one of 6 that Z's godmother crocheted for L and I, our first Christmas together.
You can also get a glimpse of our new hardwood floor perimeter in this pic.

My Handiwork

SME and I made doughcraft candy canes and wreaths when she was in 5th grade. We also made some for my parents.
The following year my Dad laughingly referred to our doughcraft wreaths as "dog turds", so SME and I designed the infamous. . . . . .

Dog Turd

Here it is folks, our family's sick tradition. SME and I made one of these out of bread doughcrafts to get even with my Dad. We embellished it with a red yarn ribbon and hung it on their tree when they weren't home. This has become my Dad's favorite ornament. Every year my Mom tries to slip it back in the ornament box, only to later find it proudly displayed in front of a light on the tree.
Two years ago, Z and I made more doughcrafts and Z wanted to make more turds so our tree and his sister's tree could also have one.
I'm certain that we have the only 3 trees on earth that have a dog turd ornament!

Monday, December 12, 2005



Yesterday was our family's annual lefse making day. For the uninitiated, lefse is a Scandanavian flat-bread made from mashed potatoes and flour. Lefse is a holiday treat that's normally served with lutefisk (don't ask). Before any of you ask: yes, I am 4 inches taller than my husband. He can't help it; he's been "vertically challenged" all his life.

My mother taught me how to make lefse. Many people profess to have a recipe, but there ain't no such thing. With lefse, you learn by DOING. You must FEEL how much flour you need to mix in with your mashed potatoes. You MUST hopelessly stick at least a dozen lefse to your pastry cloth before you get the FEEL of rolling it out. The recipe is trial and error. Once you have it; you have it for life.

I'm the roller, L is the fryer, Z is the photographer (and eater). SME never took an interest in lefse making. Z loves the stuff and will probably be the child I will pass my skills on to. It seems that every culture in the world has it's own version of unleavened bread. When Z was 3 and snarfing down his 3rd piece of lefse he said: "Your tortillas are thinner than the normal kind." L and I quickly warned Z to NEVER share this revelation with his 99% Norwegian Grandma.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

For me, a pastry frame and cloth is an essential for rolling lefse. The porous surface holds the flour and prevents the lefse dough from sticking.

Finished Product

In a little over 2 hours, L and I created 100 pieces of perfect lefse. 2 dozen are safely ensconced in our freezer for our traditional Christmas Eve meal of turkey noodle soup, lefse, and rommegrot(another Norwegian delicacy) for dessert. Don't even THINK of starting your "library paste rant", SME! We spread our lefse with butter and brown sugar, then roll it up like a tortilla to eat.
This is as ethnic as we get at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


I just received this email from one of my "kids that I didn't give birth to", as Bridget Jones would say. TR doesn't know who originally wrote this, but it's what I've been saying since Katrina struck.


Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from an Historic event --- May I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions"? --- With a historic blizzard of up to 24" inches of snow and winds to 50 MPH that broke trees in half, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed all roads, isolated scores of communities, and cut power to tens of thousands.


President George Bush did not come, and was not expected to come...

President George Bush did not cause the storm...

Global warming did not cause the storm...

FEMA staged nothing...

No one howled for the government to do something...

No one even uttered an expletive on TV...

Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards...

No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House...

No one looted...

Jim Cantori of the Weather Channel did not come...

And Geraldo Rivera did not move in to be on camera.

Nope, we just melted snow for water, sent out caravans to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars and trucks, checked on our neighbors, fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns or Aladdin lamps, and put on an extra layer of clothes because up here it is take care of yourself and others and work or die. We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sit at home' checks.

Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early, we know it can happen and and we know how to deal with it ourselves.

This is the same storm that encased our area in an inch of ice. We were the lucky ones. West-central Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota got the worst of it. They got the 50 mph winds on top of the ice. Miles and miles of power lines went down. It wasn't just the line that snapped; the poles snapped off like matchsticks! 10,000-15,000 homes were without power for several days. They think that they've finally restored power to the last few homes TODAY. That's 10 DAYS without power! Many of these days had subzero temperatures.

TR's best friend's Dad is a lineman for Ottertail Power, one of the power companies that assisted in returning power to the affected area. These brave souls didn't abandon their jobs to see to the welfare of their families. They drove on icy roads, through 2 feet of snow, in the middle of the night. They reset poles through 4 ft snowdrifts and frozen ground. They restrung line in winds that were much stronger than the 20 mph maximum that their union rules allow.

After the power was restored many of these homes flooded when their ruptured water lines thawed out. Now these homeowners are faced with the task of replumbing their homes, in the dead of winter. There aren't enough plumbers to go around, so many of these people will be doing the work themselves.

Many people didn't have backup heating. They abandoned their homes and moved in with friends and relatives who were able to heat a couple of rooms in their homes. These people will return to homes containing frozen foodstuffs, toiletries, and cracked sheetrock.

The destruction would have been worse if the area were more densely populated. I'm sure that people perished in this storm, but I haven't heard a death toll. The news media hasn't covered our disaster very well.

We didn't wait for FEMA to rescue us. We northerners are smarter than that. We jumped on our snowmobiles and 4-wheel drives and went out to rescue each other.
We northerners are a self-sufficient lot!

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Christmas Convert

Our Christmas Mascot

Several years ago, L took the kids Christmas shopping and came home with the moose in this picture. L got home, pulled the moose out of the bag, plunked him on our loveseat, and proudly announced: "That's where he belongs, every Christmas!" At that time, we didn't have a full sized couch; we just had a loveseat. That moose's pudgy butt took up half the seating space on the loveseat. I didn't argue. I just accepted the oversized moose as a new part of our family's Christmas traditions.

To me, the moose is a symbol of the huge Christmas fanatic I have made of my husband. When we were going together, the first Christmas I knew L, he refused to have ANYTHING to do with Christmas. He HATED Christmas!

The following Christmas, L and I were married. As a lifelong Christmas freak, I wasn't going to let his aversion to Christmas continue. While talking one night, I managed to pull the story of his Christmas hatred out of L.

L was in foster care from the ages of 1-11. He and his 2 brothers met his mother for the first time, in his memory, at the age of 11 in the Minneapolis Greyhound terminal. When L was around Z's age, his brothers conned him into being the lookout, while they kicked in the window of a liquor store. They were quickly caught and L was sent to the Lino Lakes boys reformatory and his brothers were sent to the Red Wing reformatory.

At Christmas, the Lino Lakes boys were allowed to go home for Christmas. L was sent home on the bus, as his mother didn't have a car. When he arrived at her apartment on Christmas Eve, the door was locked and no one was home. L sat in the hall and waited for her to come home. In the wee hours of the morning, his mother came stumbling in on the arm of a well known, local news anchorman. ( I won't mention this scumbag's name as he is now deceased. I wouldn't want to hurt his wife and children by telling this story online.) L's mother introduced L to scumbag and went into her apartment. Scumbag flipped L a quarter and said: "Go buy yourself a Coke, kid." Scumbag then went in the apartment and locked the door behind him. L hitch hiked back to Lino Lakes and spent Christmas with the janitor. His mother never questioned where he disappeared to.

I was in tears by the time L finished his story. My heart ached for the unloved child he had been. I told L that our life together was a new beginning for him. Christmas is a celebration of birth, and he WOULD be reborn into a LOVING family! Our first Christmas together, L was a bit hesitant. By the time our second Christmas rolled around, we had SME and L was hooked. He wanted to spend the rest of his life making beautiful Christmas memories for his children.

I am very proud of my "Christmas convert". He'll whine to other people that he HAS to carry in 13 boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic of our shed. He'll tell me that I'd better not buy any more decorations; enough is enough! Then he'll turn around and bring home a HUGE stuffed moose that takes up half of our loveseat. This is one of the many reasons I love L soooo much!