Happy New Year!!!!!

I already know what you are thinking. You're looking at the clock and saying to yourself "What? It's not the New Year yet!"

Well, that's all a matter of geography. It's 5 p.m. here in Minnesota, which means that it's now midnight in Norway. Right now people across Norway are celebrating with their families and friends, hosting parties, out dancing or sharing a quiet night with loved ones. Well, to be accurate, they were doing those things a few minutes ago. Now most everyone is probably outside watching the fireworks.

So, with that, on behalf of everyone here, I wish our Norwegian readers and members an exuberant HAPPY NEW YEAR!

An updated Gløgg Recipe for your New Year's Eve Party

In preparations for tonight's New Year festivities our Cultural Advisor, Colin Thomsen, has a great gløgg recipe for you. We've been enjoying it, here at the headquarters, for many years now and we figure there's no reason to keep it a secret. Making gløgg is not only fun, but it's a great way to spend time with others, sharing stories and celebrating Norwegian culture.

Here's what Colin had to say about gløgg:

This recipe for gløgg, Scandinavian mulled wine, comes from a 1968 Time-Life cookbook called The Cooking of Scandinavia. We’re not sure if their intent was to entice or to frighten. The cover features a glass of akevitt next to what looks like a ten gallon jar of pickled herring. The recipe, entitled “Professörens Glögg (The Professor’s Glögg)” is identified as being specifically Swedish, although we have no idea why. Swedish, Norwegian or whatever, this gløgg is the best we’ve had. Here is the original recipe and instructions, followed by our own commentary and notes on preparation.

Professørens gløgg

Adapted from Recipes: The Cooking of Scandinavia. Time-Life Books. New York, 1968

To serve 20-25

2 quarts dry red wine (about 2 standard 750 mL bottles)
2 quarts muscatel (or muscato)
1 pint sweet vermouth
2 tablespoons Angostura bitters
2 cups raisins
Peelings of 1 orange
12 whole cardamoms, bruised in a mortar with a pestle or by covering with a towel and crushing with a rolling pin
10 whole cloves
1 piece (about 2 inches) of fresh ginger
1 stick cinnamon
1 ½ cups akevitt (preferably Linie)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups whole almonds, blanched and peeled

In a 6- to 8-quart enameled or stainless steel pot, mix together the dry red wine, muscatel, sweet vermouth, bitters, raisins, orange peel and the slightly crushed cardamoms, whole cloves, ginger and cinnamon. Cover and let the mixture stand at least 12 hours so that the flavors will develop and mingle. Shortly before serving, add the akevitt and the sugar. Stir well and bring it to a full boil over high heat. Remove at once from the heat, stir in the almonds and serve the hot gløgg in mugs. In Sweden, a small spoon is placed in each mug to scoop up the almonds and raisins.

ALTERNATE: To make a simpler gløgg, divide the quantities of spices in half and mix them with 2 bottles of dry red wine. Leave it overnight, then stir in ¾ cup of sugar and bring it almost to a boil. Remove from the heat, stir in 1 cup of whole, blanched and peeled almonds, and serve hot.

Those are the original ingredients and instructions. Before making gløgg, read our commentary below.

Forty years after this recipe was published, it holds up pretty well. Still, times have changed and moreover through experimentation we have made a number of adjustments and changes of our own.

First off, until this year, we had never made this gløgg the night before it was meant to be served. Frankly, we had never remembered. Every year we would take out the cookbook the day of the big Christmas party and realize we’d blown it yet again. However, we were never disappointed either. Having said that, this year, we did manage to throw the spices in the wine the night before and the result was even more delicious. So, if you’re organized enough to get it together a whole day ahead of time, by all means do so, but if you’re not, don’t let it stop you.

Secondly, muscatel per se can be difficult to find. Strictly speaking, muscatel is a sweet white dessert wine that is derived only from Muscat of Alexandria grapes. We have never been able to find muscatel in our area (Minneapolis/St. Paul) although we were able to find it online, with prices ranging from about $6 to almost $70. However, muscato – derived from the same family of grapes – is widely (and cheaply) available and works great. If you really want to go for higher quality but can’t find a nice muscatel, I’m sure Lillet Blanc would be just fine. We have always used Linie Aquavit which compliments the spices nicely, but the Oslo brand would probably be good as well.

Another point is that we do not recommend simply chucking all the spices into the pot loose. In our experience people do not like finding whole cloves in their cups (or their teeth). Instead, we put the orange peel, the ginger and all of the spices - with the exception of the cinnamon stick - in a piece of cheesecloth, tie that off with a piece of string and toss the whole thing in with the wine at the very beginning, then take it out at the last second before serving. The cinnamon stick (or sticks – you can never have too much fresh cinnamon in there) we leave out to get a better flavor and also for fear they will puncture the cheesecloth. A side note: don’t try to substitute ground spices for the whole ones. We tried this the first time we made it, in order to save a few bucks, and the result was a gritty, chewy gløgg that had the body of coffee dregs. Shell out the extra $2 and buy the whole spices, or you’ll be sorry.

Finally – and most importantly – we never allow the gløgg to boil. We don’t know what “the Professor” was supposed to be a professor of, but it sure wasn’t chemistry. Alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water so bringing the gløgg to a boil even for a short time can severely deplete its psychoactive properties. We use a liquid thermometer and are careful to keep the mixture below 78°C (173°F), the point at which alcohol boils.

In a nutshell, our preparation is to simply start by mixing the red wine, the muscato, and the spices in the pot over low heat. Once this mixture has warmed up a little, add the akevitt and the vermouth to taste - generally, we use a little less vermouth and a little more akevitt than the recipe calls for. As the drink heats up, we gradually add the sugar, stirring regularly so that the sugar dissolves completely. Once that’s done, add the raisins and almonds. Then add the bitters, one tablespoon at a time, tasting after stirring in the first one. If it doesn’t need the second tablespoon of bitters, don’t add it.

The whole process will take a couple of hours. Don’t try to multitask when you’re making gløgg. You’re going to need every ounce of your steadily diminishing concentration to keep the stuff from boiling. It should be served warm, in small cups, and make sure everyone gets some raisins and almonds in their cup. Some people will complain about this, but after a cup or two, they’ll realize it’s the best gløgg they’ve ever had.


Norwegian Movie Night

As a new parent the option of going out on the town tonight is pretty much out of the question. That being the case, my wife and I are going to have a Norwegian movie marathon tonight. We've got Buddy, Insomnia and Sweetland, all courtesy of Sons of Norway's Media Lending Library!

Buddy is a story about the lives of three guys in an apartment who wind up on television, thanks to one of the guys' video diaries. The story shows the convoluted consequences of baring your inner thoughts to the masses and that only the discovery of true loyalty and redemptive friendship can make experience into something positive.

stars Stellan Skarsgård as a detective who has been sent to a town in Northern Norway, where he investigates the murder of a young girl. This movie is like film noir in reverse, because the movie is set during a time of year when the sun NEVER sets and the characters are forced to face the unfolding mystery in the harsh light of day.

Last of all, Sweetland is about a young German, named Inge Alltenburg, who travels to Minnesota in the 1920's to marry Olaf Torvik, a Norwiegan man who lives there. It is a story about Inge and Olaf not being allowed to marry due to there different citizenship's, and not being accepted because of the war with Germany. Over time she learns English and befriends Olaf, Frances, and Frances' family.

I can't wait to watch them all! And the best part is that it's all free because I am a Sons of Norway member. That's right, Sons of Norway has a complimentary lending library for its members that includes hundreds of music and video titles. It's a great member benefit for individuals and lodges. Check it out sometime if you've got a hankering for some Elling or Cool and Crazy.

Did you know?

Did you know...

That today's Featured Article on Wikipedia's homepage is all about Gunnhild, Mother of Kings, who is a prominent figure in many of the Norse Sagas?

That according to the CIA Factbook there were only 1.988 million home telephones in Norway, as of 2007, but at the same time there are 5.192 million cell phones in use? I'm guessing it has something to do with the proliferation of cell phone use by children. A recent article over at Norway Post says that 9 out of 10 Norwegian 10-year-olds have their own cell phone. What makes this even more extraordinary is that there are only 4.7 million people in the country. That means that roughly half a million people have more than one cell phone! For what, I have no idea. I can't get the one I have to stop ringing, so I don't know why anyone would want double the aggravation.

Norway and Russia are currently in a territorial dispute over a chunk of land that is called "Dronning Maud Land" (or Queen Maud Land)? It's about the size of Alaska and Texas combined, but only has an average yearly population of six. That's right, six is not a typo. On average six Norwegians live there year-round at a research station called Troll. The reason, you ask? Because Queen Maud Land is in Antarctica. Hopefully you can see the humor, like I do, in that two first-world nations are arguing over barren chunk of land at the bottom of the world where six people live.

Norwegian Christmas

With tonight being Christmas Eve many families use this time to do something together. I know mine sure does, so in that vein I've got some great places for you to check out if you're looking for something to do tonight.

First of all, Sons of Norway members can check out our Information Banks, where we have a couple great items on Christmas in Norway and, for those who like to sing, Norwegian Christmas Carols.

But for those of us who live in the north with the cold and snow, there are other things you can stay inside and do. How about some last minute decorations? Click here to learn how to make Norwegian Christmas baskets for your tree. Or, if you feel like doing some baking tonight, why not try making some krumkake with a traditional recipe?

There's so much a family can do and that's the best part, I think; being with family and loved ones.

Alright everybody, have a merry Christmas and we'll go back to blogging about winter and the New Year on Friday.

We now resume our regular programming

Ok, so I’ve gotten a number of e-mails and comments, in recent days, asking why there hasn’t been as much activity on the blog over the last couple of weeks. I confess it’s entirely my fault. I’ve just been through one of the most exciting (and tiring) experiences of my life, and now that things are starting to settle back into a routine of sorts I can take a moment to tell you about it.

You see, my lovely wife gave birth to our first child, a 6 lb 15 oz boy named Sig, on December 5th and I’ve been spending most of the last two weeks at home with our new bundle of joy! I’m happy to report that he’s healthy, happy and, as of today, a 4th generation Sons of Norway member!

He’s a cutie, right? So, there you have it. I think it’s a pretty good reason to temporarily drop off the radar, don’t you? But never fear because regular blogging has resumed!

Resumption of regular blogging…sort of
You know what one of the hardest parts of having a child can be? Picking a name. Think about it for a second; the name you choose will be one of the first, and most basic, way in which your child will define themselves. It will be a huge part of their identity. Because of this, my wife and I looked for a name that we felt represented our German and Norwegian heritage, but was somewhat unique without being cumbersome. We chose the name Sig because it is somewhat uncommon while also being a shortened version of a number of Germanic and Scandinavian names, like Sigbjörn, Sigefrid, Sigfinn, Sigar, Sigvald or Sigurd.

This kind of got me thinking, though. What if my wife and I lived in Norway when Sig was born? Norway has some pretty strict name laws (though they have reportedly relaxed a bit in the last five years) that date back to the 1800’s. Would we have been able to name him Sig or would we have had to go with the full Sigbjörn? Maybe, maybe not.

The most current version of the law, from 2003, states:

One of the most important differences from the old naming law is that a first name can be given as long as it will not cause significant disadvantage to the person concerned or other strong reasons within the realms of common sense. Previously, the name could not cause “disadvantage” but the addition of the word “significant” means that Norwegians now have more freedom in choosing a name.

A restriction in choosing a first name is that if the name is registered as a surname or middle name, it cannot be given to a child unless that name is already a traditional Norwegian first name, or a name in another country or culture where there is no separation of middle and surnames.

To read the full law, you can view it here in Norwegian or you can read a rough English translation here.

There’s also some interesting blog posts about the name laws here and here as well as news stories about them here and here.

It's Christmas Time in the... er... city?

Anyone who has ever been to this lovely little spot knows it is a pretty big stretch to call it a city. The fact that I address our utility bills to the "City of" and not some monopolizing power company is proof enough that this is a still a small town. So, it's Christmastime in our small town.

I've been a horrible blogger lately. I get kind of annoyed when people blog about how bad they are at blogging, and yet here I am-- similar to yelling at your kids while you're on the phone with someone, or not returning e-mails, or telling people that you're going to cry/try not to take too long/just read from your paper when you're giving a talk in church-- all things I don't like, yet find myself doing again and again. Anyway, I've kind of been waiting for things to slow down a bit to catch up on everything I've been neglecting, but I suddenly realized that this is my life and it isn't showing any signs of slowing down any time soon. So, I have to prioritize. I do love to read your blogs and e-mails, and I love knowing what is going on in your life. I realize that I need to reciprocate my part in our communication, so I'm really going to try to keep my end of the bargain. I can't promise daily posts at this point, but I can promise that I'll make a regular effort to keep in touch.

Plus, let's be honest here-- I'm just vain enough to enjoy reading my own writing. Hee.

Anyway, back to the update: Chris is still in SLC tonight, working out the details for our van purchase. If only buying a new car was like buying a sweater: you go to the store, pick out the one you like, try it on, go through the checkout, and voila, you've got yourself a new sweater. Unfortunately, it's a much longer and more drawn out process, so hopefully tomorrow will bring home a hubby and a car that seats lots of people.

It's a pretty even mixture of excitement and trepidation that I'm feeling when I think about becoming a mini-van mom. Owning a mini-van breaks yet another promise I made to myself as a teenager (yes, there are more, don't get me going-- I should have just shut my mouth from age 15-18) and makes me officially uncool. But, I'm accepting my uncoolness, as I suspect it has actually been around for quite some time, and I'm working on embracing, rather than unhappily surrendering to my soccer mom status. We did look at SUVs, but the constant request for a friend to come home from school with Thomas and the constant "He's touching me!" in the back seat ruled out a 5 passenger vehicle, and neither Chris nor I could really get excited about having little boy footprints on the middle seat of our car when they jumped to the back of a three-row SUV. Plus, they're quite a bit more expensive to buy, insure and maintain, and we're nothing if not practical. So, there you have it. And hopefully the thing has enough traction and weight that Jen won't have to push me out of a snowbank! :)

Back to Christmastime-- it's in full swing around here! YAY! Thomas is out of school and we've already had some Christmas guests. And of course, I've taken every opportunity to make and eat those goodies that we only make this time of year. Mmm.

Our tree this year is one of my favorites ever. Since adding the piano, our already small living room is especially packed, so we really didn't have much space for a tree. We moved the end tables to a temporary location and moved the love seat into the corner, and just barely had a tiny little space left. Luckily, Chris and my brother, Jake, found this tall, skinny tree that fits just perfectly. It reminds me a lot of the tree we got in Washington when we drove up into the mountains and cut it down ourselves. We may have to do that next year-- it's so fun. Anyway, our tree couldn't be more perfect.

There is nothing more festive than pulling out all of your old ornaments. I love just sitting and looking at them. If you came into my living room and looked at our tree, you would know that we have sons, that there is at least one Utah fan in the house, and that we've been to some fun places. Our ornament this year was purchased in Vancouver, BC-- a real maple leaf set in metal.

At the beginning of the month, Chris and I went to my company Christmas Party. I borrowed a dress from my sister, Caitlan, and got a little bit dressed up. It was fun, and don't we look cute? Aw.

A few days later, I bought a ready-to-make Gingerbread house kit at Michael's. I had thought that the boys would just go crazy with the decorating, and had planned to let each of them tackle half of the house. Instead, they looked together on the box the kit came in, picked out one of the sample designs, and meticulously placed each little candy while I frosted. It was really cute. They didn't even try to eat any of the kit candy-- of course, having a little bowl of M&Ms nearby helps with that!

I have some more to show and tell, but this will have to suffice for now. Only three days 'til Christmas!!

Oh, and I don't think you read this, my friend Anna, but if you do: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!


From Chris:
We are a one-car family — for the moment anyway. 

Our Camry sold today — a lot faster than we had expected. I'm off to Salt Lake on Monday to bring back a "big, juicy van." (That's a quote from Seinfeld, for those of you who didn't notice it.) We were really sad to see our Camry go, but a nice young man who needed it got it.

When I said we are a one-car family, what I really meant was we are a half-car family, because that's what a Kia Sportage is - half of a regular car. At least it's paid off.

Hopefully, Elise's Christmas present will look something like this (without the dopey guy sitting in the driver's seat, of course):

Seasonal Notes

The moose are loose!
And in the ever popular elgnytt (moose news):
Watch where you drive! As the weather gets cold, moose wander near cars, wreaking havoc wherever they roam! Well, perhaps it’s not quite so dramatic, but one article states that 1,321 moose were killed in traffic accidents last year alone, with many more occurrences in the wintertime versus summertime.
Possible explanations? Tasty shrubs along roadways and the alluring salt on the roads. Either way, if you’re living or vacationing in Norway this over the next few months, watch for the kings (and queens) of the forest…

Santa, errr, Julenisse and Julebukk are coming to town
Who stops at your Norwegian-friendly home on Christmas? Does the julenisse beat Santa to the punch? Are you prepared for his visit?
Here are a few tips to working with the julenisse so he doesn’t play tricks on you:
• do leave the farm animals to his care – he’s supposed to guard them!
• don’t forget to leave him a bowl of porridge – yum!

If you want to write to the julebukk, who will come to your home, bearing gifts, or the julenisse, you can address notes to:
N-1440 Drøbak

Stitches 77 to star in sequel to "Sleeping With the enemy"

Stitches77: 1/19/2008 9:22:00 AM

"Patty Wetterling lost a child to a sex offender. But now that her other child IS a sex offender she wants to back off from her previous pro-child activism. She's hardly an unbiased source."


So says the centerpiece of the Absolute Zero United Cult, Stitches 77. And yet, she's awfully cozy with one of her own targets, Jeremy "Static" Bolick. Remember, she's the one who "outed" him as a so-called "pro-pedo activist" and posted his registry flier on Wikidposers:"


Lets see, CP, considered a "habitual offender," multiple offenses, and a Tier 3 offender. But you know what they say, "all's fair in love and war."

A funny thing happened during this war. Two enemas.. er, "enemies," fell in love. An "anti" and a "pedohead" joined at the hip. Its touching, really. Its even starting to rub off on each other. I already discussed how Stitches 77 is starting to sound like a sex offender apologist (http://absolutezerounites.blogspot.com/2008/12/watch-out-for-stitches-77.html), but oddly, Jeremy (as he goes by at AZU these days) is starting to sound like an anti, and the antis are fawning over their new boy toy:


The problem for Nigel Oldperv is that words have meaning- and truth is truth, whether he ignores it or not.
Jeremy | 12.14.08 - 1:33 am | #

Controlling language can be an effective way to control public perception"
That's a very good point there.

Stitches77 | Homepage | 12.14.08 - 3:41 am |

The problem for Nigel Oldperv is that words have meaning- and truth is truth, whether he ignores it or not.
Nigel respects words that have meaning only to him, and his perv buddies and supporters. Those words are words that distort the actual truth.
Whether purposely or not- his ignorance airs in believing his own words rather than words of truth.
~**Violet Leaves**~ | Homepage | 12.14.08 - 11:50 am |

Anti-Paedo, in addressing the Patty Wetterling mantra AZU was spouting earlier in the year said this:

On February 11, 2008 at 5:17 pm Vigilant Antis Said:
"Which Patty Wetterling story are you interested in? The one where her son was killed by a sex offender or the one where the other son became a sex offender and she changed her mind?"
(See: http://vigilantantis.wordpress.com/2008/02/04/andrew-%E2%80%9Cbilly%E2%80%9D-berg-repeat-sex-offender-child-predator-released-into-the-community/)

Which Stitches 77 story are you interested in? The story of Stitches the Anti and vigilante who called people like the Pope, Patty Wetterling, the Human Rights Watch, and others "Pedo enablers" for speaking out in favor of reforming some sex offender laws? The same Stitches who watch out for those who promote Romeo and Juliet laws?

Or are you interested in the Stitches 77 with a sex offender boyfriend, who now says its okay to have a Romeo and Juliet clause:

Stitches77 - 9:13 AM
"However, we DO need a Romeo & Juliet clause, I agree with Zman there."

Hey, maybe this torrid love affair may educate the wicked bitch of the net. Maybe AZU will change into an organization that actually works toward protecting children rather than their current status as a dangerous cult and cyber-terrorist organization. Maybe something good will come out of this sob story. We can call it "Sleeping With The Enemy 2: Douche and Cunt."

Xavier Von Erck - Stitches 77's hero

Perverted Justice, the pudgy faced, gorilla bearded, closet pedo, and master-baiter and Absolute Zero Retarded colloborator Xavier Von Erck, in all his "glory," such as lying, claiming a reporter spat in his face, and and hurling insults. Between him and Petra Luna, who is worse (and dumber)?


Your typical AZU troll

Seeing is believing, so watch Petra Luna, AZU alum now largely MIA (after her Shiitake Award winning performance) in all her "glory." THIS is what a typical Absolute Zero troll acts like.


So, after seeing the video, is Petra Luna high, crazy, stupid, or all of the above? You decide. What's with the laugh, anyways? Its no wonder they think such things as Patty Wetterling as a sex offender while idolizing corrupt Mark Lunsford.

Camry for Sale

Know anyone who wants a wonderful, reliable Camry? Ours is for sale. Check out the ad here.

I am really sad to be selling our Camry-- it has been the best car! We're just a little too squished when we're all riding in it, so we've decided that it's time to expand. Boo.

How stinking cute is that!?

Joseph Duncan was the excetion, not the rule

The newest mantra in the AZU is inaccurate and quoted out of context. Why am I not surprised?


Anti-Paedo says:
The truth is that I am not an exception, I am the rule! Most sex offenders are just like me

- Joseph Duncan Jan 2004

So I went to Joseph Duncan's blog, and didn't find the quote.


You won't find that quote there. Nor anywhere in the January 2004 archives. Does it really matter what Joseph Duncan feels anyways? No. Joseph Duncan doesn't speak for anyone else but Joseph Duncan. Of course, minor details like accuracy has never been protocol at Absolute Zero United. After all, they DID also claim Patty Wetterling had a non-existent sex offender son. And to think people actually believe what AZU says without checking the facts.

Of course, the true context of the passage, found in a different place, can be found below, in a far different place than AZU claimed it was in. [http://fifthnail.blogspot.com/2004/04/known-facts-about-sex-offenders.php]. In reality, most sex offenders won't re-offend, unlike Duncan, making him the exception rather than the rule [http://www.oncefallen.com/Recidivism101.html]. The problem is, AZU wants to find the worst people and attach it to those where it doesn't apply. Can I apply the Andrea Yates case to every mother in America? The problem is, in our paranoia, we have consumed people for behaviors which call for a reprimand wather than a criminal case [see http://www.oncefallen.com/CriminalizingTeenSex.html or http://www.oncefallen.com/youmightbersoif.html]. How can you compare these people, especially those having consensual teen sex with other teens, to a Joseph Duncan, a man who was a serial rapist/ killer? Only people as deluded as AZU can fail to see a difference.

Duncan was the exception, not the rule. The truth is, Duncan is as rare as a lottery winner. They exist, but are very rare. Duncan doesn't speak for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have learned their lessons and have gone on to live non-offending lives. But stories of success is not what AZU stands for.

Absolute Zero United's  tactics are no different from the Ku klux Klan, who will point to every crime committed by an African American man and claim that is proof everyone they hate is evil. Or, they are not above slandering and lying to prove a point. Think about who you want representing this fight, a company like http://www.stopitnow.org/, a place that offers real solutions to a growing concern and issue in the USA, or AZU, who offers nothing more than lies and deception in order to promote themselves? I think the answer is obvious.

Norwegian Population Hits Record High

This article from Dagbladet caught our attention this morning. According to new figures just released from Statistics Norway, by the end of the year there will be 4,801,100 people living in Norway, making a record high increase of 1.3% for the year. The net population increase for the year is estimated to be 63,900 people.

All of Norway’s counties have shown a population increase this year, the largest increases being in Oslo and Akershus with 15,516 and 9,363 persons respectively. In Rogaland the increase is expected to be 7,973 people while Hordaland will be up by 7,051. The lowest population growth is in Finnmark which will grow by only 36 people.

Nearly 30% of the population growth is the result of net births, while 70% comes from net migration from abroad. Two years ago net births accounted for 42% of the increase and migration 58%.

For more information (in English) click here.

Ah, Gordon.

No, these aren't block towers. Look closely and you'll see that they're each made exactly the same. He made a whole army of them-- ten, I think.

Here's a hint:

Pretty clever, huh?

Gordon certainly keeps life fun and interesting. Here are just a few funnies from the past couple of weeks:

"Mom, you have a big, huge, gigantic bum. And Neil has a teeny, tiny bum."

(Don't you just love 3-year-old body observations?)

While watching "Scrooge" with Chris, "Is that guy Screwed?"

Neil was fussing in the car on the way home from dropping Thomas off at school. I said, "Oh, Neil, what are we going to do with you?" Gordon said, "How 'bout 'time out'"?

Little Neil

Or not-so-little Neil, depending on who you talk to. While it is true that Neil has mastered the growing thing in his short two months of life, he's still only in the 32nd percentile on the chart, so he's still a little thing. Mmm, and he is a luscious little thing! I just love his squishy little body and his soft baby skin, not to mention that amazing baby smell. Sigh. If he could just stay small!

Neil-Nee-Neil, as Gordon calls him, has been smiling a lot in the last couple of days, though I have yet to capture it on my camera. It's quite heart-warming, and everyone else in the family has made it a regular practice to try to get those smiles to surface. I think you can see hints in these pictures...

He has also discovered his thumb-- how sweet is that? Neither of the older boys were thumb-suckers, so we'll see if Neil keeps this up. I just think it's cute.

We went to the doctor today and received all good news-- Neil is growing well and is developmentally on track. He did have to get some immunizations, which always breaks my heart a bit, but he was a little trooper. Love this boy!

After-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving

Since Chris had to work on T-Day, his parents were generous enough to delay their traditional celebration for Saturday, when we could join them in Salt Lake. Aside from the flood, we had another perfectly wonderful weekend!

While Grammuh was finishing the dinner on Saturday, Grampuh took the boys to Toys R Us and let them pick out some toys to bring home. Gordon chose a sidewalk chalk set, which he and Chris used to make the small sidewalk in Gramm's backyard look quite colorful, and a Thomas the Train DVD. Thomas picked a large drawing pad and a very fancy art set. His set includes several different types of artist tools-- crayons, paints, markers, and even oil pastels. Here he is with his first masterpiece-- in mixed media, of course.

Thanks, Grampuh, for spoiling our boys!!

Speaking of spoiling, Chris was definitely in heaven with three kinds of pie. I think I've mentioned before that I am not a pie person-- I am no good at making it and never do, and I really don't prefer eating it to other desserts like, say, cake. Chris, on the other hand, loves almost every kind of pie (maybe every kind, I can't think of one he doesn't like) and can make a mean pie crust himself. He got his pie-making skills from his mother, and he looks forward to her pies with great anticipation. He also likes the real whipped cream, as you can clearly see...

Gordon prefers a cherry on top, or several.

After a delicious meal and a fun day with the family, we got to help decorate the Christmas tree. Chris's parents collect a new ornament each year (we borrowed that tradition in our own family), so it is always fun to open the ornaments and reminisce. The first one on the tree is their first ornament, an adorable Santa. Tommer had the honor of hanging him this year.

We're so thankful for Chris's parents for hosting us for our delayed holiday! It was so much fun!

Recipes: Peanut Butter Treats!

Elena called for Christmas cookie recipes, so I thought I'd share my favorite peanut butter and chocolate treats. There are few things more delicious (or fattening) than peanut butter and chocolate, so you may as well get your fill before those New Years resolutions start!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Why buy Reese's when you can make your own?

Grease a 9X13 pan

1 1/4 cups peanut butter
3/4 cups butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar

Add and mix by hand:
1 more cup powdered sugar
3 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Press mixture into pan

Melt on Low heat:
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Spread melted mixture over peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until chocolate layer is firm. Try not to eat the whole pan!

Irresistible Peanut Butter Cookies
The little extras make a huge difference in these tasty cookies!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter

then stir in:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Next, add:
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups flour
(add more flour if your dough is too sticky)

Finally, add
1 cup Reese's peanut butter chips (about 1/2 bag)
6 full sized Reese's peanut butter cups, chopped

Roll into balls and flatten with your hand or with a fork.
Bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes.

Recipe: Dinner Rolls

These are great no-frills rolls. Very simple ingredients, but they turn out great.

2 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 can of evaporated milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup oil
1 cup hot water
1 Tbs quick-rise yeast

Add 5-6 cups of flour, mix thoroughly. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until dough doubles in size.

Form into fist-sized balls and place in greased pan(s). This recipe yields 21 rolls, so I use a 9X13 and an 8X8 pan. Cover and let rise another hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes.

Getting to Know...District 5 International Director Jostein Bakken

Ah, Jostein Bakken – the enthusiastic International Director from District 5. Read on to reminisce with him about emigrating from Norway and what might make for a stronger Sons of Norway.

Q: How did you get involved with Sons of Norway?

A: It goes back many years, when I first came to this country. My uncle took me to the lodge down here, Skjold 5-100. I was a member from late 1950 to the middle of 1960. Then I moved away, built a house, started a business and then came back again in 1980. Been a member ever since … about 43 years.

Q: What’s different about Sons of Norway now, as compared with then?

A: Not an awful lot has changed, I must admit. We have more young people now, but we had some then .. Of course, I was younger back then… Meetings are getting shorter…
What changes would you like to see in the organization in the next few years?
I think programs have to be improved. I don’t think that giving medallions are doing the job. Of course, I think the tickets to Norway are a good promotion, but it’s so hard to get programs. They aren’t the interesting and educational programs that we should be offering.

Q: Which leadership position within the organization have you enjoyed the most? Why?

A: [without a moment’s hesitation] District president. That was the most fun time in my life in Sons of Norway. The people! I felt at home. The board was really nice to work with, and I enjoyed that the most. And, also, you get to know and visit more people.

Q: When did you come to the U.S.?

A: I came to the United States the 16th of January 1950.

Q: Why?

A: I came for work. I was emigrating.

Q: What do you miss about Norway?

A: Well, of course, I think of Norway because it’s my motherland and it’s a beautiful country – lot of hills, lots of mountains and I was used to it. It was quite a change when I went back for a trip to visit my sister— she is still living there. I didn’t recognize it because it looked so small. I still have Norway in my mind and I frequently go back.

Q: What’s your favorite Norwegian food?

A: At Christmastime, I miss the lutefisk. Every Christmas Eve in Norway, we had lutefisk and ribbe and rømmegrøt.

I'm not going to ask you again...

Addresses, people!

I'm putting my Christmas cards together tonight and thought that there are some of you who really should get a card from me, but won't if I don't have your address. I love sending Christmas cards-- it's an important part the holidays for me. Every year, the week after Christmas, I buy my cards for the next year. Then, I hide them away for the year, forget all about them, then surprise myself with my selections when I get them out in December. It's so fun and it kind of kicks off the season for me. Those of you who have received my cards in the past also know that I always enclose a newsletter (one that I usually go overboard on, and this year is no exception) and usually enclose a little prize as well. It's all very Christmas-y.

And it's not e-mail-able, so if you want one, send me your address. You know who you are. elisehansen1 at hotmail.

I don't like stragglers, so if I don't have your address by tomorrow, you'll have to wait for next year.

By the way, I have a TON of stuff to blog, but I need to get these cards done first. Sorry. :)

Androniki Pappas Obit

Watch Out For Stitches 77

Stitches 77, the queen of hypocrisy, says:

"Watch for someone who defends an 18 year old for having sex with a 14 year old, then when asked the question "Would you have done it if she had been 12?" the response being "Oh NO, absolutely not, there must be a 'line' somewhere" Completely overlooking the fact that there WAS a line and it was crossed."

But then says--


Stitches77 - 9:13 AM
"However, we DO need a Romeo & Juliet clause, I agree with Zman there."

Thus, we must watch out for Stitches 77! The truth is, Stitches77 flip flops more than, well a pair of flip flops. If you read any tag at this site, you'll see what I mean. Stitches 77 condemned the mother of the registries, Patty Wetterling, as a "pedo enabler" with a non-existent "sex offender son"

while playing apologist for Mark Lunsford, a man suspected of viewing child porn and using his daughter's death to cash in with a Hummer, a tricked-out chopper, and a $50k salary for a Foundation that does... um, what DOES it do?


Absolute Zero United attacks Patty Wetterling but defends Mark Lunsford. Ironically, Mark Lunsford's 18 year old son Joshua was arrested for sexual contact with a 14 year old girl, and went to court wearing a "Please Find Jessica" T-Shirt"


Just what is Stitches 77's position on teens having sex with teens? Depends on whether or not she is attacking another person or not. Anyways, Read the facts, and think about it when you see a member of Absolute Zero United, Perverted-Justice, or one of their "associates" blogs about other individuals.

How I remember Christmas as a boy


He lay very still for a few minutes, perhaps even holding his breath to make sure he could not hear anyone moving about. He had finished eating his cookies and milk in his bedroom and had called “goodnight” to his Mom and Dad quite a while ago.

When he was sure they must be asleep by now he quietly slipped out of bed, being careful to step on the homemade braided rug beside his bed. He knew the stories he had heard about your foot sticking to the cold linoleum, like your tongue does to an ice tray, were false but he did not want to take any chances.

He crept out of his small bedroom and across the kitchen, again making sure he stayed on the rugs and did not step on the cold linoleum. In about eight steps he was at the doorway to the front room where the Christmas tree had been decorated and lit and was awaiting the appearance of Santa Clause. Of course he and his friends now knew there was no Santa Clause but never the less he wanted so see what awaited him under the big blue spruce that was their tree this year.

He peaked around the doorframe and was not really surprised that it looked just like it had when he went to bed. There were presents under the tree, there was cookies and milk on the end table for Santa and the lights were winking and blinking but nothing had changed. There were no new toys or gifts added since he went to bed. He said to himself, “well that is what I expected to find.” “I wonder how they know exactly when I am to sleep or just pretending.”

Of course it seems he had just gone back to bed and just fell off to sleep and he heard dad up building a fire and then he knew! He knew that Santa had come and that it was OK to get up. He called to his dad and asked, “Has he been here yet?” And he answered, “of course son but lets let the house warm up a little before you get up so your feet will not stick to the linoleum.”

That was the beginning of another Christmas day, just like they had been for as many years as he could remember. When the house warmed up he and his sister and Mom and Dad all opened their presents and ooohhd and ahhhed just like they did every year. They were thankful they were together and they always got some presents from that unknown Santa Claus.

After a quick breakfast the day’s activities would begin just as they did every Christmas Day for as long as he could remember. He would bundle up in his warm coat, hat and boots and run as fast as his legs would carry him to his best friends to see what had been left for him under his tree. After a short visit and a piece of Christmas pastry he and his friend would be off to the next friends house to do the same thing over again until they had visited all their friends in town. Each time the picked up another person to go on with them until in the end there might be ten or twelve trudging into a home to inspect gifts, eat cookies and have a Christmas drink. It was a grand time and one the young man would remember all his life, and even tell his children and grandchildren about.
Even though there might be ten or twelve children going from house to house, covered with snow and laughing and acting like children, they would never be turned away from their friends homes and would always be offered some type of goodie. It seems in that small town that Christmas was the time for all the Mothers to try and outdo each other making goodies to hand out. I remember Greek Cookies, Pitisa, Italian Biscuits, Fruit Cakes (soaked in wine cloths), Fudge, Butter Squares, Divinity and an array of things that was hard to imagine. We were even offered home made wine by the Greek and Italian families but we usually turned it down ands sometimes they seemed upset by this.

It was usually afternoon when we finished visiting with friends and then it was time to visit the Aunts and Uncles (real ones and adopted ones.) There were many people in our small town who we called Aunt and Uncle but they really were just friends of our Mom and Dad’s. Some times I am not sure if we really knew if they were real relatives or not. Of course at those homes we had to eat. It was either a turkey sandwich or a salad or it could be a full course dinner again. We never knew what it would be but we did know we would be invited to eat. It seems in a small town that was closely knit together one of the favorite activities was to EAT.

After eating it was off to play, usually in the snow. If some of us were fortunate enough to get new sleds we could not wait to go and try them out on the big sledding hill in flat town. We never had to worry about whether we would have enough snow. In fact our worry was usually the opposite. Who would be the one to walk up and down the hill in the thigh deep snow to pack down the trail for the first ride? Or if we got skates that clamped onto our shoes we would go to Hoopes’ pond and take our scoop shovels to shovel the snow off so we could skate.

We would play in the snow until dark and then build a fire and play until we were so tired we could not get back up the hill. We were so wet and cold our pants were like cardboard but we did not care because we were having fun.

Our Christmas Days were perhaps not as spiritual as they should have been but the closeness and the love of other people of all faiths and all nationalities was ingrained deeply in us in that small town.

By Wallace R. Baldwin
9 December 2002

Hiawatha Breakfast 1 Dec 2008

There were 12 of us at the Hiawatha breakfast on Dec. 1st. As usual we talked a lot, laughed a lot and speaking for myself we had an enjoyable time.
Mike Manosakis --Ken Allred
Tom Neilson --Glenn Davis
Dean Petrulas --Tucker Lowe
Tony Kourianis --Mike Orphanakis
Clyde Reaveley-- Bob Wilde
Wally Baldwin --Gordon Bingham

Any of you guys that would like to attend-- It is the 1st & 3rd Monday of the month.

Fun with Photoshop

I know, I know. I'm driving myself crazy with my lack of blogging! It has been a busy week and I've been working on a couple of projects that really needed to get finished. Fortunately, I'm almost caught up-- let's just say that it's kind of amazing how many loads of laundry five people produce, particularly when one of them spits up on everything. Sigh. Anyway, I've just finished a project on Photoshop, and I had to share this little remnant. Fun, huh?

Norwegian Court Decides Landmark War Crimes Case

This week a court in Oslo sentenced a 42 year-old Bosnian man to five years in prison for his role in war crimes committed in 1992 during the Yugoslav Wars. The case was the first ever prosecuted under new laws allowing Norwegian courts to try cases for crimes against humanity committed outside of Norway.

According to Reuters the convicted man, Misrad Repak, came to Norway in 1993 seeking asylum, and became a Norwegian citizen in 2001. Aftenposten reported that the case began with a tip from Danish police, who were conducting their own investigation into war crimes committed during the conflict. The prosecution’s case alleged that Repak was a mid-level leader in HOS, a Croatian militia, and that he participated in an internment camp were Serbs from the towns Stolac and Capljina were rounded up in 1992. The conviction was for crimes committed in the camp, including torture. Repak was found not guilty on some counts, and the five year sentence is only half of what prosecutors asked for.

Human rights advocates have long been concerned that the generous asylum policies of Norway and the other Nordic countries may have unintentionally made them into safe havens for war criminals. According to Aftenposten there are about 100 persons in Norway suspected of war crimes, including 15 individuals that the Rwandan government has requested be extradited for prosecution for their role in the genocide there in 1994. The new laws, which were passed in 2005 but only came into effect just this year, are intended to show that war criminals will not be tolerated in Norway. Still, the case was extremely complex and the constitutionality of the new laws is yet to be tested. Judge Finn Haugen told the Norwegian press that he believes that the case will and should go to the Norwegian Supreme Court so that the legal principles underlying it can be fully evaluated.