January Wrap Up!

We're in the last couple of hours of January and I feel like I should say a big "WHEW"-- I made it! I don't know why January is such a hard month for me-- after all, several of my very favorite people were BORN in this very month-- but every year I find myself trudging through it. This year, though, one of my resolutions was to change my attitude about the month of January and I think I did pretty darn well. Not that I'm sad to see it end!

So, the end of the month and a few more pictures to share!

January 23rd-- Date Night!

Since prior to January, Neil needed me to coddle and care for him nearly every second, Chris and I only used my family babysitters on a very emergency basis. For some reason, weening Neil has made him much more friendly to people other than me, so we were able to leave all three boys with my parents and go out with some friends. I love the opportunity to get a little bit dressed up and have some adult conversation! And I love our great friends! I think I may have to make another resolution not to wear out my welcome, so to speak, with the babysitting though!

Earlier that day...

Remember when I mentioned that much of our activity in an Idaho winter centers around playing in the snow? It does. Luckily, snow play can get pretty fun, especially when you include a nice gradual slope, cousins, and some slick sleds. Gordon is not a huge fan of sledding, but he likes to race on foot. I think he was mad at me because I said it was time to go home, but Tom and Dal sure look happy!

Speaking of winter play, I really want to try snowshoeing. In my head, it seems like the perfect winter sport-- kind of like hiking in the snow, right? I want to try it before this winter ends and see if it's something I could get into!

January 27th-- Pinewood Derby

Thomas (with the help of Chris) entered his first Pinewood Derby this year. Here's something I didn't know about the Pinewood Derby: they give you a box wherein lies a block of wood and some wheels. The rest is up to you (and your dad). We're not really tool people, so it was interesting to see Chris get creative on helping with this baby! Thomas drew the design, Chris cut it out and sanded it, Tom pushed the button on the spray paint, Chris finished spray painting and attached the wheels, Tom drew the smiley face, and some guy in the ward added some graphite. Oh, and I taped about $1.50 worth of coins on the bottom when the car weighed in at a mere 2 ounces.

The outcome: Tom's car, named "Tommy", won 4 races and lost 1, ending up somewhere in the middle. Perfect!

On the way home, we figured out that with the spacing of our boys, we'll be attending Pinewood Derbies for the next eleven years without a break! I think we're going to get pretty good at this!

January 28th-- Story Time

Gordon and I have been going to pre-school story time at the library on Thursday mornings faithfully since we moved here. It's a fun-filled half hour of stories, songs, and a craft, then we go to the children's section and pick out our books for the week. This month, my dear friend, Sherrie, who recently moved to IF (yay!) has joined us with her daughters. Now, most of Gordon's friends are boys, so it's been very fun to watch him interact with a very girly girl. He's a much softer version of himself, even though I still have to loudly whisper not to run and to use inside voices in the library. Cute little devil.

January 29th-- Big Judd's

Speaking of friends, a large group of friends from our ward went to Archer to the famous "Big Judd's" last night. It was so fun to hang out with some new families and eat really bad-for-us food. Later, Chris and I both felt a bit sick. I didn't take a lot of pictures, but I capture this moler shot of Gord and one of his new buddies.

Wrapping up, I have to say that this January has been one of my favorites in memory. We're loving Idaho, our friends and family, the crystal clear air, even the snow. I think I could even love January! Who knew?

Post Script

My new niece Reese Nicole Andrews was born January 30.

The Circle of Life

I write this having just returned last night from my Aunt Judy’s funeral. My mother, husband and I traveled to Wichita for this sad occasion, and we plowed back through snow-covered roads for more than three hours until the weather broke as we headed into Nebraska.

As often happens at this most mournful of occasions, families reconnect. I hadn’t see my cousin Chris in years since we had lived on opposite sides of the country until recently. It was really good to see him, meet his vivacious lovely bride of just over six months and his charming sons. Thanks to Facebook, we’re going to keep in touch.

As we were headed home, my mom got a call from my youngest brother. His wife was in the hospital getting ready to give birth. So as hokey and Disney-esque as it sounds, there really is a circle of life.

My aunt’s sudden death after her stroke and heart attack two weeks previous felt like a blow to the solar plexus. My heart went out to my cousin and his family and to my mom, who lost her ‘baby’ sister.

After the service, I heard two stories about my aunt’s ‘baby mojo’ quilts. One woman had been trying to conceive for 15 years when she became the recipient of one of Judy’s special quilts. She has a three-year-old now. Another friend of my aunt’s was there with her daughter, four months pregnant with her third child. She too had been gifted with one of Judy’s quilts.

My aunt had nearly been finished with a beautiful white quilt for her new daughter-in-law, Paula, when she died. Paula’s grandmother will finish that piece.

As we continue to mourn the loss of Judy, we listen for the cell phone ring from my youngest brother announcing the birth of his new child.

In a week from today, Erik, my mom’s first grandchild and my first ‘baby,’ will be home from his second sojourn in Germany. It can’t come soon enough.

Norwegian Literature Making Headway in the U.S.

Anytime I come across words like “Nordic” or “Norwegian” in U.S. mainstream media, I gobble up the information. So it was exciting last Friday when, during my regular morning scan of the Wall Street Journal, I came across this headline: “The Strange Case of the Nordic Detectives.” The near full-page article by Laura Miller delves into the “growing appeal of Scandinavian crime fiction.”

Miller writes about authors I’m familiar with, but have yet to read (Stieg Larsson and his Millennium Triology, for example), but also introduces authors I’ve never heard of and am putting on my must-read list, including Norwegian Karin Fossum. Miller called Fossum’s book, The Indian Bride, “heart-rending.” Last year, The Indian Bride picked up the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for best mystery.

“Counterintuitive as it may seem,” Miller writes, “the Scandinavian brand of moroseness can be soothing in hard times. Its roots lie deep in the ancient, pagan literature of the region, preserved in sagas that were first written down in medieval Iceland.”

The genre seems a perfect accompaniment to the gray and glum Minnesota winter we’ll be trudging through for another two or three months. I can’t wait to dig in.

Viking magazine alert: Look in the April issue for recommended Påskekrim (“Easter Thrillers”) to read.

One Travel Mistake You Won’t Need to Make

While editing “Get on Board!”—Viking’s cover story for January—I was reminded of a Norwegian travel adventure of my own. Actually, a misadventure. To avoid it, I have just three words of advice: Beware Kristi Himmelfartsdag! Not familiar with it? That’s Ascension Day to you and me. And while you might live your whole life unaffected by this day, that would not be the case in Norway.

My husband and I had invited my in-laws to join us on a trip to Northern Norway. We planned the trip using the schedules and resources we found on the Internet, but I missed the crucial fact that public transportation provides limited service on religious holidays--many of which are also federal holidays.

Kristi Himmelfartsdag was the day my husband and I parted ways with his parents. Our bus to Sweden ran as expected, but my in-laws’ bus to the train station didn’t. They missed the only southbound train that day and were left scrambling to find an alternative route back to Oslo. A “memorable,” if not relaxing, experience for them, thanks to my mistake. Good thing they don’t hold grudges.

Just so you aren’t caught unaware, Kristi Himmelfartsdag falls on May 13th in 2010.


In the summer of 2003, I went with my late great friend Mary Rodd Furbee (sister of my dear friend Susan) to my first West Virginia Writers, Inc. Conference in the little burg of Ripley, WV. The gathering has met for more than 30 years now and boasts a line-up of past presenters that includes novelists Lee Maynard, Gretchen Moran Laskas, Brad Barkley, essayist/poet Jim Minick and children’s author Cheryl Ware to name just a few.

I’m looking forward to making the trek from the prairie to the hills again this summer to attend what will be my eighth conference. Humorist and novelist Terry McNemar, the organization’s president, is planning another stellar line-up.

This conference is like a big family reunion, welcoming old members and new alike into the fold. It’s a wonderful way for writers at all stages to jumpstart their creativity and feel energized about their craft. It’s also a good introduction to new genres.

Warning: I digress.

My aforementioned friend Susan says she likes to see where my train of thought ‘wends’ and eventually leads. Susan is too kind. I like to start at Point Q, detour back to B, and end up nice and neatly at Z.

My main introduction to poetry before WVW was Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, with a little Charge of the Light Brigade thrown in. Sure I loved Poe, but his short stories, not the gloomy Lenore.

Then I started going to the conference, some years as a presenter, some as a pupil.

I learned about spoken word poetry, prose poetry (and flash fiction), list poems…and was educated and illuminated. Probably my favorite poem of all is Eliot’s The Wasteland, but it was nice to be exposed to some new things.

At this point, even if I were Susan, I’d wonder where I was going with this.

But I know exactly where I’m going because I know exactly where I started. At 5:45 this morning I was in a YMCA exercise room dropping and giving the substitute ‘drill sergeant’ ‘50’ in a toning class.

I recounted my day in an email to a friend. Reading over it, it occurred to me that I had written a ‘list poem.’

Lately I’ve been all about trying new things to embrace the lifestyle change I’ve experienced over the last year and a half. I’ve gone from an über stressed, overworked (my own fault), frantic lifestyle to the following:

i went to 5:45 a.m. 'toning' class run by substitute 'drill sergeant' instructor

came home, went back to walk

thought about yoga tonight but stomach muscles (or lack thereof) have had enuf

ordered flowers for funeral

worked on writing-related stuff, but not writing per se


feel fragmented, need more sleep

need to revive 'ancient' multi tasking skills that used to allow me to teach/advise fulltime

write, be 'super volunteer mom'

or not

Bad poetry and pathetic pushups…it’s a start.

Smitten with These Mittens

Every year about this time, I find myself pining for winter wear—or even just an accessory (a hat, a scarf) to freshen up my tired Minnesota winter uniform of black down coat and black fleece-lined boots. Rather than venturing to Macy’s or REI, I decided to do an Internet search for “Norwegian mittens” and happily came across helloyarn.com, a website that celebrates all things knitting.

Hello Yarn is a knitting shop in Pennsylvania, and its owner, Adrian Bizilia, is a self-proclaimed knitting fanatic who raves about Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition, Terri Shea’s book about traditional Norwegian stranded mittens. Bizilia blogs, “It is filled with so many beautiful patterns. One pair, called NHM #10, are especially gorgeous and dainty. They are copied from a pair of mittens housed at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle, WA, that feature a lovely scroll on the back, as well as the date (1932) and someone’s initials.”

Now the amusing part: I’m not even a knitter. But my mother is, and I can’t wait to give her this book—and maybe some yarn so that she can get started right away on my first pair of Selbu mittens. As she and I discover the tradition of Norwegian Selbu knitting together, I might finally catch the knitting bug, too. My mom would be thrilled!

Photo from http://www.visitselbu.no/eng/museer.html

Thoughts on a Monday

I've decided that what I really need is an extra 4 or 5 hours in my day. Today, for example, I actually got a lot done-- I went visiting teaching, light grocery shopping (where I actually used a coupon-- perhaps I'll get on that couponing kick one of these days!), back and forth to schools, plus I washed, folded and put away two loads of laundry! Anyone who knows me well knows that I battle with laundry, so I'm chalking that one up to a major personal victory. Despite these accomplishments, I'm still feeling the pressure of the huge list of things I didn't get done today.

And now it's nearly 11 PM and I'm tired and ready to cash in for the day. Sigh. Maybe tomorrow I'll be Wonder Woman. For tonight, I just have to be satisfied with clean laundry.

Get on board with these train travel tips

This month’s Viking cover story features the Oslo-Bergen railway, called “northern Europe’s most scenic train ride” by travel writer Rick Steves. If you’re planning to visit Norway, I highly recommend fitting this into your itinerary. Whether you make the trip in as little as seven hours or as much as seven days (as Viking writer Aaron Dalton suggests), you’ll be blown away by the beauty of the experience.

To make the voyage as hassle-free as possible, consider these tips I learned while chatting with Teri Behr, a Scandinavian travel specialist at Brekke Travel.

  1. Make your reservation early. Train travel is a popular mode of transportation in Scandinavia, especially in the summer months. It’s very possible that trains will be full on the days you want to travel.

  2. Consider sending your luggage ahead. If the seats are full, the luggage compartment probably will be too. You can avoid the hassle of traveling with a giant suitcase at your feet by bringing your luggage to the train station the night before you depart. For around $25, you can send a large bag on the (less popular) night train, and it will be waiting in the station when you arrive the next day. This is especially helpful for those planning a “Norway in a Nutshell” excursion, which involves schlepping your luggage on and off the train, ferry and bus.

  3. Find out if you qualify for a discount. If you’re 67 or older, you are eligible for a senior discount. Children under 4 can travel free with an adult and kids 4 to 15 can travel half price. Groups of 10 or more also qualify for a group discount.

  4. Know your options. There are two types of tickets on Norwegian rails: Komfort Class (yes, that’s Komfort with a “K”) and Second Class. Komfort Class includes a seat in a separate compartment, complementary tea and coffee, a Norwegian newspaper, and access to a 2-pin power outlet for your laptop. (Make sure you have the proper adaptor and power converter so your laptop survives the trip!) Komfort Class costs about $18 extra (so, depending on how much coffee you drink, you might come out ahead!). If you prefer to travel overnight, you can book a sleeper car for an additional $170 each way, which will roughly double the cost of your trip.


Here's another post from Nichole about the 2010 Eurovision competition!

Is it really that time again? Indeed, Eurovision qualifying competitions are heating up all over the world, with a lot of action seen in Norway. Contestants are starting to compete for a spot in the Melodi Grand Prix, which qualifies a Norwegian contestant for the international Eurovision competition. You can follow Norway’s progress here.

You’ll recall that the Sons of Norway blog followed last year’s competition, won by Norwegian Alexander Rybak. (Archived posts here and here). But there’s even more reason to keep our eyes on the 55th annual contest as the days progress – the lucky national winners all head to Oslo for the final competition in May!

Check back for updates on Norway’s progression in this fun contest of song.

A Death in the Family

We were getting ready for church this morning when the call came from my cousin Chris. Aunt Judy had stopped breathing during the night and died. Two weeks ago she had a stroke and heart attack, and I wrote about my mom’s ‘baby’ sister and all she meant. None of us expected this news so soon, though. The all-around concern was that she’d have to go into a long-term care facility.

Instead my mom has lost her sister, my cousin has lost his mother and his children have lost their loving, doting grandmother.

And a niece has lost an effervescent aunt who enriched her life beyond what words can describe.

The Modern Age

As I sit and write this on my iMac, I have Skype running so Erik can call me back from Germany. The first time I ever used a ‘VDT’ (video display terminal) was my junior year of college in the newsroom of the Iowa State Daily.

Previously I’d been a broadcasting major at Central Michigan University. And this week a friend of mine here on the prairie, Ann, got another Michigan ‘girl’ and I together for lunch. Carol, a Michigan State grad, is a local radio talk show host.

We sat and reminisced about splicing audio tape with a razor blade and scotch taping it back together. That long-ago production class was my first inkling that anything that involved even ‘rudimentary’ technology was probably not for me.

My mother runs all the remotes for the TV/Blu-ray/Netflix box/streaming. I turn the television off and manage to shut the whole system down.

However, I’m pretty handy at navigating search engines so it all evens out.

Hours ago when I started this, I maybe had a point. But it’s long-forgotten.

Thanks to ‘modern’ technology, I can chat with my older son – for free – as long as I want. We can talk books, writing, and whether we should lock younger brother Andrew out of my office when he leaves for a minute.

Erik will be home in two weeks from his study abroad trip.

It can’t come soon enough for any of us.

Distortion 101: Another study of AZU

A continuation of the study of cognitive distortions of Absolute Zero United. [Part 1 on ad hominem here: http://absolutezerounites.blogspot.com/2009/12/azu-101-ad-hominem.html]

Absolute Zero is so full of hatred and bias, they have become quite adept at distorting every comment of those they hate. See the above 2008 article, for example. [link @ hXXp://absolutezerounited.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-does-this-remind-you-of.html]

Allow us to dissect the distortions.

#1: Pope: What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?

AZU Read: Its society's fault when a pedophile molests a kid because after all pornography and violence can be seen in the media.

Truth: The Pope is addressing the fact that violence and pornography is so prevalent in our society that it has a negative influence on our behavior, which increases the likelihood of sexual offending to occur in society. AZU forgets that some people, such as REAL victim's rights groups, seek to address the root causes of sexual offending. Most researchers, including those AZU use in justifying their views, agree that our environment does negatively impact sexual offending behavior. That is not placing the blame, AZU, it is called identifying a problem area. In order to address root causes, we must look at aggravating factors and identify them. Using AZU's distorted logic, if you admit there is evil in the world, you support evil. Weird, huh?

#2 Pope: Those who "have experienced shame over what has occurred" deserve guidance and support.

AZU Read: Its the offenders we need to focus on and stop worrying about those pesky victims.

They didn't bother even giving a direct quote. Offenders and victims alike need to address the gravity of what has happened and pursue ways to heal from this terrible tragedy. AZU sees it as shifting focus "away from victims." Really? Victims experienced shame over what has happened to them. AZU does not believe in guidance and support for crime victims. They believe crime victims should all remain bitter, angry vigilantes for life. See:



Like I even need examples. Read just about any comment board and you'll find it.

AZU offers no hope for healing. Instead, they perpetuate violence. And lies. And cognitive distortions. Yet, because of their target group, they are allowed to do this unfettered.

It’s an Art Shanty? No, it’s a Nordic Shanty!

Today we have an excellent post from Nichole Neuman. Enjoy!

For those members who are blessed to live in warmer climates, know you are the envy of us here in the TC, where temperatures recently reached the epic -12 F. What better way to cope with the miserable cold than heading to a frozen lake to visit an ice shanty? Strike that—make that an art shanty.

For many years now, artists have built these temporary structures on Medicine Lake in Plymouth, MN for four weekends in January and February. It is an excellent way to embrace the weather and fuse artistic values and vision with our natural climate.

This year, Nordic culture will be heartily celebrated on ice with the Nordic Immersion Village Shanty, where visitors will choose a Nordic name and participate in the fun, which includes (and I quote):
∙ dressing up as Vikings
∙ herding imaginary reindeer
∙ choreographing dances to Eurovision songs
∙ learning and participating in Nordic crafts and language classes

For those in the area, members will want to put the dates of January 23rd and 24th in their calendar, for those are the Norwegian days!

More info on the Art Shanty Projects here.

A Look Back at Christmas 2009

I packed up our Christmas decorations earlier this month and, as I seem to do every year, found myself wondering if I’d done enough to bring my Norwegian heritage into my family’s holiday celebration. As a 100-percent Norwegian American married to a “melting pot” American, it’s up to me to carry the heritage torch for our young family—three boys ages seven to three with a fourth addition set to arrive this spring.

This year, as every year, we decorated a small Christmas tree with Norwegian flag garland and knit heart ornaments. We had a traditional meal of torsk, lefse, and Swedish meatballs on Christmas Eve. (My mom reminds us every year that the Swedes “stole” the meatball recipe from the Norwegians, so we’re not being too traitorous in including Swedish meatballs in our Norwegian feast.) On Christmas day we snacked on open-face sandwiches topped with rollepølse and spike mör mail ordered from Renner Corner Locker, in Renner, South Dakota. And my siblings and I shared some stories with our kids about the Christmas celebrations we experienced at our grandparents’ farm in Baltic, South Dakota—a bicentennial homestead settled by my great-great grandparents in 1864 when they emigrated from Trondheim.

But in comparison to my childhood Christmases, which were infused with Norwegian food, baking, language, music and traditions, the Christmases that I’m creating for my children seems much less culturally rich. Was our 2009 Christmas rich in other ways? Absolutely. In fact, my husband and I agreed that, in my ways, this was our favorite Christmas yet.

Still, the hope for a “more Norwegian” 2010 Christmas celebration persists. As a contributing editor to Viking magazine as well as a Sons of Norway member, I would love to hear how your family celebrated your Norwegian heritage this holiday season. Send your ideas and inspirations to me at hpearson@mspcustomcontent.com.

The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)

Greetings everyone! Welcome to the 2010 version of the Sons of Norway blog. As you probably noticed there was a bit of a hiatus in blog posts recently--sorry couldn't be helped. BUT now that we return to business, I've got some great news to share. Starting today I've got a couple new blog contributors who I am really psyched about!

That's right, in addition to my little missives there will be some fresh, new content by a couple of VERY talented writers who also happen to work on Viking magazine. They are going to be contributing weekly to the blog with their clever insight, astute observations and ever-welcome input.

Oh, and did I mention they are both Sons of Norway members? How cool is that?

So, with that, allow me to introduce Amy Boxrud and Heidi Pearson!

Amy Boxrud is editor of Viking magazine. The mother of two grade-schoolers, Amy and her family live in Northfield, Minnesota where she is a member of Nordmarka 1-585. Amy is a Nordic folk music enthusiast, and when she’s not working or parenting, she can often be found making music with friends. She is a founding member of Northfield’s Nordic Roots Session and performs with the groups Scandium and Hütenänny.

Sons of Norway member Heidi Pearson serves as a consulting editor to Viking magazine and has written stories for the publication for ten years. A “full-blooded,” fourth-generation Norwegian American and mother of three young children, Heidi is always on the lookout for ways to infuse her family’s busy life with touches of their Nordic heritage. She lives in the Twin Cities.

I'm really excited about this because I think that both Amy and Heidi are going to make some really awesome contributions to this little corner of teh interwebs. Both of them come from very interesting professional backgrounds and I, for one, think this portends great things to come for Sons of Norway and the blog.

Join me in welcoming Amy and Heidi. Their regular blog posts will begin later today and each week there will be plenty of new content for you to enjoy!

Neil is the star of the show!

I just downloaded a bunch of photos and Neil is the subject of a huge percentage of them. Yes, he's a darling boy, but I don't think it's his looks that make him the star of the show. With Thomas and Gordon at school and Chris at work, I can't help that this little sweet pea is my almost constant companion. He's growing up so fast, though, and I'm glad I'm capturing the last few bits of his babyhood.

January 11th-- Golden Boy

I like crafty stuff and I've managed to accumulate quite the collection of supplies over the years. Neil really loves to peruse the little portable drawers I keep by my desk-- most contain harmless things like stamps and ribbon. Unfortunately, on this day Neil discovered the drawer that keeps a bunch of shimmery powders used for embossing and adding shininess to paper crafts. Apparently he liked the gold one best.

Lest you think I am one of those "nothing-ever-bothers-me" kind of moms, I'll tell you that I was EXTREMELY irritated while cleaning up this mess. I took a picture just because gold lips are kind of funny. Little stinker.

January 13th-- Neil's last morning in Mom's bed

It's been a mildly tough week for Neil and me, as we (I) decided to do what I jokingly call "breaking up". Basically, Neil has become an independent toddler-- he eats normal food and he sleeps in his own bed all night long. I honestly thought he would be a little bit more upset about our breakup, but he seems to be just fine. I, on the other hand, am still enduring the physical discomfort of weening and the slight emotional sadness at losing my human teddy bear.

January 16th-- Window Seat

I think that living in Idaho in January automatically equals lots and lots of snow pictures, because there isn't much else to do. It is pretty fun to watch the kids play from my nice, cozy perch inside. Neil likes it, too.

January 18th-- Thomas

Hooray-- a non-Neil picture! I love this random picture of Thomas-- he is becoming such a handsome boy. I love that he has Chris's green eyes and those long eyelashes, and I love that he has my nose and lips.

The Stop Vigilante Violence and Websites Act of 2010


This Act is needed because of people like Absolute Zero United, people like Static, Stitches 77, Logue Hater, Violent Leaves, Jacey, Rob Taylor, and others who continue, threaten, harass, defame, impersonate, and stalk online. Put an end to these cult sites by supporting this bill, and making groups like AZU and PJ liable for harm they cause in attacking registrants, innocent family members of the accused, and anyone who simply opposes their views. Proof of these groups' criminalactivities are well documented in this site.

Click on the link above and support this bill today!

More violence from my personal stalker

Logue hater coughs up another stupid comment. Do I even have to explain how stupid this comment is? And somehow, AZU actually believes that everyone believes their lies. Thanks for the laugh, Logue Hater!

All About Me….

When Erik went to Germany the first time, as a high school foreign exchange student, my husband and I told his younger brother that life was going to be ‘all about him.’ We said this to help him cope with the fact his only sibling would be gone for a year. Despite the fact that Erik once stuffed a sock in Andrew’s mouth (the jury’s still out on the deservedness of the action), they get along pretty well.

And, whereas pre-schooler Erik once said to us in a mournful tone “I liked it better when it was just the three of us” regarding his new baby brother, Andrew wasn’t really prepared to live like an only child.

This spawned a little ‘ditty’ called, appropriately enough, “All About Me” (think “Pants on the Ground,” only not nearly as catchy).

I thought about the title of this tuneless little tune this week, but not for reasons that originally had anything to do with my sons.

The old post entitled “All About Me” started this way:

Day 8.5 of no stress-related/recreational sugar products, ready to gnaw on the landline phone...but other than that...okay...I think?

Ever since the night I dove into a Ziploc bag of leftover holiday M&Ms when Erik and Morgan called to say they were stranded in Denmark by “Storm Daisy,” I’ve gone cold turkey on sweets.

It’s time to cut out the stress munching and crunching so I’m being “All About Me.”

Only writing about eschewing sweets and upping the exercise bores even me.

To quote my dear mom, “You’re not going to write about fat again are you?”

Now posting diet/exercise related Facebook statuses and talking about it with friends who commiserate is okay.

But writing a blog post called “All About Me’ and making it all about ME is, in the end, not me.

Ever since I held that first tiny six-pound ‘monkey’ baby in my arms and later his more-than-eight pounds sibling, it’s been wondrously, gloriously about them.

No reason to change that now.

Hiawatha "Ladies" Luncheon


Back to the drawing board….

I spent all morning writing a blog post about a defining moment in my life, and Martin Luther King Day seemed the day to articulate these thoughts. We’ve come a long way since Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, but we still need to keep the dream alive.

I then spent less, but more frustrating, time scouring the house for my 1978 Lake Michigan Catholic High School Yearbook. Before doing so, I even logged onto a classmates website for the ‘free’ membership in hopes of finding the photo I was looking for.

Even tho a picture of an old cute neighbor boy of mine popped up as the ‘newest’ member of the site, I still wasn’t tempted to pay the $9.95 not-so-free fee to gain access.

One of the reasons I started blogging was to find my individual, as opposed to collaborative, voice as a writer. Since my writing partner is also my mother, she’s highly supportive of the whole endeavor. Also, I wanted to finally write about things I’ve mulled for years. Like defining moments from my older son’s younger days that have helped shape me into the ‘holding on and letting go’ mom I am.

We spoke yesterday after he returned from the Berlin airport where he saw his girlfriend off on her return trip to the States. Even though Erik flies back in three weeks, he said it was really hard to go to the airport and not be getting on a plane to come home.

So I have a lot on my mind, the words need visuals, and the dishwasher needs unloading.

All I ever wanted was to be a mom and a writer. And some days I just struggle to do either well enough.

Jeremy Static finally responds... hypocritically.




Voice of Reason's already covered this so I don't even need to elaborate further. Jeremy Static finally responds to a question posed by the same blog.


Thanks AZU for continuously showing how two-faced you REALLY are!

Which AZU troll is most likely to go crazy in 2010?

As you can see, there is a new poll up to the right hand side of my blog, posing the question: Which AZU troll is most likely going to go off the deep end in 2010? They're all insane in the membrane, but if I had to place money on which one's most likely to turn into one of those mass murderers, which one is most likely to do it? Tough call. My money's on Logue Hater, though Violent Leaves takes a close second.

Happy Birthday Caitlan!!

Today my sister, Caitlan, is 21 years old! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Next month, Caitlan is leaving for her 18-month LDS mission to Honolulu, HI. While no one regrets the location she'll be serving in, I'll miss having her here in freezing cold Idaho. It's been fun to hang out with Caitlan, eat her tasty and adventurous cooking, let her take the boys to the store (she asks to take them!), and give her all of the unsolicited life advice I can think of. She'll be a great missionary and I'm excited that she gets to have this fun experience. If I write any more, I might start to bawl, so I'll just stop, say that I adore my younger sister, and go upstairs and make her a spice cake. Yum.

Every day has a story

A bunch of my digi friends are tackling the 365 challenge where you try to take a picture every day for an entire year. I think this is an excellent idea, in fact, I even designed a few 365-themed scrapbooking products. As for me, though, let's get real-- it is taking me forever to finish big projects these days, and frankly, committing to this particular one feels like admitting you're a failure before you even start.

So, rather than commit to taking a picture every day, I'm committing to trying to take more pictures of everyday life. I've skipped a few days here and there, but I've also taken a few pictures of moments I wouldn't necessarily have thought of. It's been kind of fun and here's what I've realized: every day is significant. I like that idea-- it helps me feel like my life is blessed and meaningful, rather than just a jumble of hours, days, weeks.

I'm also trying to become a better point and shoot photographer. I'm going to believe in photographic karma-- if I can show that I am willing to put time and effort into my inexpensive P&S, I believe that the universe will reward my efforts with a much more expensive SLR. One can dream, right?

Onto my first few photos of the year!

January 6, 2010-- Snow Angels

It's freezing outside-- I mean literally FREEZING-- but that doesn't stop the boys from donning their snow gear and playing until they can't feel their noses. In fact, I think the fact that they get to wear layers and layers of extra clothing makes outside play even more fun. And they seem to play together so well when they're outside (maybe because they know they might have to huddle together for warmth!), so I'm all for it.

I think this may be one of my favorite pictures-- it's blurry, but you can still see the pure joy in Gordon's face as he chucks a snowball at me. I told him he could throw it, and I think being given permission to do something you might normally get in trouble for is all the more exhilarating.

One of these days, hopefully this next week, I'm going to try to get a photograph of our sunrise when I go out to warm the car up before school. It is amazingly crisp and clear, and the colors have been stunning. I didn't think it was possible at this time last year, but I may actually be enjoying January.

January 7, 2010-- Cupcakes

They're almost too pretty to eat-- almost. There is something about sprinkles and colorful frosting that make an ordinary Thursday afternoon just perfect.

January 7 (again)-- A light in the darkness

January 10, 2010-- Noodles

Neil is a very good, but very funny eater. He will eat nearly everything, but it must be on his terms-- sometimes he'll like something, then the very next day he won't even try a bite. I have yet to find anything consistent, except maybe macaroni and cheese and those mini clementine tangerines. On this particular day, he was happy to slurp spaghetti noodles, as long as Chris fed him like a little bird.

End-of-the-Week Musings

My Aunt Judy is still in ICU in a Kansas hospital, having indeed suffered a stroke followed by a heart attack. I’ve been thinking a lot about family and friends and feel truly blessed in both areas. I’m grateful that three weeks from today, our eldest flies home from Germany.

The sun is shining, the snow is slowly melting, the bitterly cold temps are last week’s news.

On Wednesday, I finally went to get a flu shot. The friendly receptionist said to me: “Your birthdate is 12/26/, correct?”

I waited for her to say the ubiquitous /59 that always follows. But she didn't, and I commented on it.

She said she was trying to be discreet about my age, which made me laugh. I told her that was fine, I’d come to terms with it.

I promised no more fifty talk, but….

Aunt Judy and my mother’s father, my amazing Grandpa Rock, had his first heart attack at 50. A trim man, he was also a heavy smoker. He stopped and lived ten more years, until his fatal heart attack at 60.

Grandpa Rock would be 100 on February 10th.

This week, I’m cherishing 50 as the beginning of mere middle age.

Aunt Judy

The worldwide news this week has been horrible, with chaotic storms in northern Europe and a major earthquake in Haiti. At least in my own little corner, my older son and his girlfriend are safely back in Germany. This weekend they’ll head to Berlin so she can fly home. A couple weeks after that, he’ll head home too.

He’s a restless one but going to stay put for a while, relatively speaking.

So I should be breathing easy, but I’m not. My beloved Aunt Judy, my mom’s only sister (and younger than her by five years) suffered a stroke due to soaring high blood pressure. She may have also had a small heart attack. As I write this, we’re waiting to hear when she will be moved out of ICU into a regular room.

When I was eleven years old, my grandmother took me on a trip to visit Aunt Judy in San Francisco. My aunt was married then, her son was just a toddler and she owned the biggest, scariest, laziest Doberman Pinscher in the world. She took us to the Japanese Tea Garden and a fancy restaurant where I still remember what I ordered: Chicken Cordon Bleu.

She’s a gourmet cook, expert seamstress and grandma to two blond boys she dotes on. When I was in high school, Aunt Judy made me two gorgeous silky Qiana (it was the 70s) dresses. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve worn a dress that had cleavage peeking out. Aunt Judy crafted one of those dresses, and I wore it under my high school graduation gown. Before I went off to college, I took the train to go visit her because she said she’d take me shopping for new clothes. I don’t like to shop. It was the best shopping trip ever. We must have hit the mall (they did have malls then) for eight hours or more.

In the mid-fifties, my mom and Aunt Judy went together on a school trip to Europe. They flew over the English Channel in a wobbly plane during turbulent weather, had a marvelous time visiting the British Isles and managed to look smart and sophisticated while traveling.

When we visited Erik in Germany two years ago, I wore a sweat suit that still makes poor Andrew cringe if I dare wear it around the house. Yes, it’s that ugly.

My Aunt Judy is a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a cook, a quilter, a wonderful woman who’s been special in my life since I was an errant toddler at her wedding, emptying all the near-empty champagne glasses into my mouth.

She sent me a note when I first starting writing this blog, raving about it. Of course she is biased.

“You are simply great, Pam,” she ended her note with.

You are simply great, Aunt Judy, you are too.

Pee-J and AZU trying to cover up member's RSO past

Thanks to Voice of Reason for pointing this out, but MsTattle recently went in and removed the screen shot of Jeremy Bolick's sex offender screen shot (but if you type in Jeremy Bolick in the national registry at www.nsopw.gov, you'll find him still in Norman, OK... Norman, as in BATES!)


Anyways, I wonder why AZU's just now getting around to this. But if the goal of Wikisposure is to make people aware of "pedophiles" on the web, then why was Static removed from Wikisposure? Let us recall the fact that Static has multiple convictions and a Tier 3 sex offender. So why would Wikisposure remove him from the site? AZU has plenty on him even still at their site.

I will give Static a little credit. He did call TSand out on his past behaviors, and I'm curious as to how TSand reacts:

So TSand, will you bow down to Stitchy once and for all? So far this is his response:

Get ready for TSand turning on the antis again!

UPDATE: Static does admit he was on Wikisposure, but claims no correspondence between him and Pee-J.C'mon, Jeremy, you know better than that! AZU members created most RSO activist wikisposure pages. Don't play coy! At any rate, the fact remains Static was removed despite being a Tier 3 sex offender with multiple convictions, and AZU defends him rabidly. Either AZU is FINALLY admitting they can be wrong about those they've attacked and that sex offenders, including activists, can be rehabilitated, or they're merely being as hypocritical as I've said they are for two years.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

"I quit," I said.

However, as my mother has been kind enough to point out to me in the past, when you’re the mother you can’t quit.


I spent all afternoon writing two pieces, one of them a new blog post. Which I promptly dragged to the trash and emptied. Permanently.

The next logical step was bursting into tears. Which I promptly did.

Parenthood isn’t for wimps.

When you hold that little baby in your arms, you have no idea of the words he or she will say to you down the road…such as “We’re stranded in Denmark.”

Over the weekend, Erik and his girlfriend, Morgan, went to Copenhagen. As I write this, a huge snowstorm has stranded them in a town ‘a piece’ from the village where the ferries dock. The road to the village is impassable, the ferries aren’t running nor are the buses. A train derailed yesterday because of the snow.

And I sobbed over ‘spilt milk,’ or rather lost words.

But not really, which both my older son and I understand. He’s a lot like me, that one. He handles the big things with aplomb, but minutiae such as a coffeemaker not working, frustrates. In a handful of years, he’s handled travel problems that would turn my hair gray…if it wasn’t already. The best word to describe his wonderful girlfriend is ‘plucky.’ They still like each other, even after wading through snow up to her waist to get to a bus to get to a hotel, when the buses were still running.

He’s uber resourceful, like his father. They’ll make it back to Germany, then to the States. I intend to hide his passport when he returns home, however….

Fortunately, for comic relief, I have Erik’s younger brother. High school freshman Andrew and I have a tacit agreement that I won’t write about him unless absolutely necessary.

This is necessary.

Last night, Andrew and I were chatting. He had just watched a movie with Laurence Fishburne in it. He said to me: Do you know that Laurence Fishburne is younger than you. He’s only 48.”

I said “But don’t you think he looks older than me?”

Andrew said “Yes, but he’s built differently than you” to give ol’ Laurence some slack.

Yes, he’s a tall solid black man; I’m a short plump white woman.

Out of the mouths of babes.

The "face" of reform? Yeah, right...

So says T-Sand. Reformed huh? Well, hell, this must be some kind of miracle, because just a few months ago, TSand was pretending to be a girl on a blog, and even using Jessica Lunsford's avatar. Apparently the AZU formula for reform is bowing down to Stitches. Go figure. "Reformed?" YOU decide.

Henry V111, The Divine Right of Kings and The Church of England

A Window in Bristol Cathedral


When did the Church of England begin? Some people claim that the Church of England, extending to the Anglican Communion, is part of the world-wide Catholic and Apostolic Church. Some will say that it is a continuation or development of the ancient Celtic Church (at least up to the Synod of Whitby), and some say that it is the Church of St. Augustine of Canterbury. There are still those in the Anglican Communion who see their Church as part of an ecclesiastical trinity: The Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion. There are many questions here, but I want to discuss what most historians, secular and ecclesiastical, will agree was the actual beginning of the Church of England; Henry VIII's break with Rome and the declaration of his Royal Supremacy in matters spiritual.

One of the best recent books on Henry is, "1536", subtitled, "The Year that Changed Henry VIII", by Suzannah Lipscomb (Lion 2009). Historians have long puzzled over the changes in Henry's character that occurred in that year. But the aggressive and moody behaviour that became more obvious had a long history, and the two years before 1536 saw events which had a profound effect not only on Henry's emotional stability but on the whole country. Lipscomb writes that it was when Sir Thomas More and Archbishop John Fisher were beheaded that the break with Rome was complete. In a particular way their deaths signalled the final rejection of Papal authority in England.

Henry's rejection of the Pope was tied in with his need to divorce Queen Katherine, but it would be a mistake to simplify by saying; "It was all about the divorce". Lipscomb makes clear that Henry was a scholar and something of a theologian. Although it is clear that he sought advice from others, he also meditated, read and annotated the Bible and thought through his ideas in great detail. He is known to have sent for theological opinions from some of the best places of learning in Europe. He became utterly convinced of his position as the divinely appointed King of England, and he saw this kingship embracing the spiritual well-being of his people. However he began this enquiry, there seems little doubt that he became convinced (or convinced himself?) of the rightness of his position. He was heavily influenced by Tyndale's "The Obedience of A Christian Man" (a gift from Ann Boleyn) which argued that a Christian prince ought not submit to the Pope or any church authority, since he was "ordained" by God and was answerable to Him alone. Henry said that all kings ought to read this book.

In exalting his position Head of the Church, Henry was going against the book he had written (with help) against Luther, Assertio Septum Sacramentorum. This book was also a defence of Papal authority. The Pope gave him the title "Defender of the Faith" which was strangely kept by the English crown after the break with Rome. Henry turned about face. He so exalted his own position that he was soon to correct the Bishops' catechism, and the front piece of the Great Bible of 1539 shows Henry sitting immediately below the glorified Christ, handing out the Word of God which then, as from his hands, descends from both ecclesiastical and secular authorities to the people at the bottom. It is an hierarchical order with Henry clearly taking the place of the Pope, but no Roman etching had quite exalted the Papacy in such fashion. In that front piece, Henry, like a giant on his throne, is more prominent than the Pope ever was in England. This fits in with Henry's need to enlarge almost everything about himself (including his codpiece in the famous Whitehall Mural and subsequent copies). There could be no opposition to Henry's rule over the English Church. Everyone had to be told - it had to be preached in every church - that he was the divinely appointed Head of the Church in England.

Where did the theory of the "Divine Right of Kings" come from? Is it truly scriptural? Is it truly Christian? It seems to me that these are important questions when thinking not only about the Anglican Church, but the the history of the Russian Orthodox Church and the position of the Tsar.


The doctrine of the divine right of kings has a long history. It is impossible to focus on one date or event as a beginning. It is tempting to go back as far as the Emperor Constantine who called the Council of Nicaea. There seems to have been an understanding, taken from Holy Scripture, that Christians were expected to honour and obey the emperor or the ruling authority (1Peter 2: 13-17). The Lord Jesus Himself told Pilate that his authority had been given by God (John 19:11). However it is also clear from Scripture that no earthly ruler has absolute authority in all things. Whatever side of the Reformation fence people choose, Christ's own authority was passed to the Apostles and through them to the whole Church. The order in which authority was given by Christ is important. Although in Chapter 10 of St. Matthew's Gospel Jesus gives the authority to cast out demons and to heal to "his disciples" the "power of the keys" is given first to Peter (Chapter 16: 13-19). It is clear that teaching authority (including overseeing the local Church) was passed on from one to another, and it is also clear that this involved the "laying on of hands", so there was a physical expression of this. Not wanting to digress, the physical expression of what came to be called Apostolic Succession is important. The Word became flesh, and the full implications of the Incarnation for the life and organisation of the Church include the physicality of the transmission of the Gospel, from the use of the voice, to the actual active ministration whether that means baptising, healing or the laying on of hands in the sense of ordaining someone.

A search for the roots of the doctrine of the Divine right brings us to the Papal Bull, "Unam Sanctam" of Pope Boniface VIII. This was issued in 1302. It is considered, by some, to be an extreme statement of papal authority. The so-called doctrine of the "two swords" is especially connected with this document. Boniface insisted that the secular powers must submit to the spiritual authorities and that this submission went beyond matters spiritual. He seems to have taken much of his theory from the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugh St. Victor and Thomas Aquinas. We could go farther back and look at St. Augustine's "City of God" which speaks of the "Two Cities", the spiritual being the most important.

Whilst the Pope and the King shared authority, the king or emperor being anointed and therefore authenticated by the Bishop, there was some sort of balance. Admittedly there was always a tension between authority given from above and authority accepted, or even granted, from below. This was resolved to some extent by the idea that a Christian monarch would be considered genuine only in so far as he was virtuous. This point was made by Erasmus in his, "The Education of a Christian Prince" (1516). The implications of this were to be historically far-reaching and opened up a wider debate about just how far a king (or queen) could go in asserting royal authority. The post-Reformation development of the divine right theory led to an imbalance. The monarch had to claim rights over both secular and spiritual matters, and given the widely-recognised accent on royal virtue this could only cause further problems. It might be argued that the extremes of Louis XVI (aided by Bossuet) have nothing to do with the Reformation, but they are rooted in a dispute between king and Pope and so, by way of reaction, there was an imbalance that led to further tragedy.

My main point in this essay is to focus on the beginnings of the Church of England in relation to the divine right theory as developed and expressed by Henry VIII. To lay the groundwork of my argument I want to ask whether we can agree that the theory is actually Christian. Henry deliberately identified himself with King David but, cutting the first part of my argument short, the Davidic kingship was fulfilled in Christ, and the Lord did not give His authority to a secular ruler - He gave it to His Apostles and to His Church. From that Christians are right to assume that the Church can, and should, recognise the legitimacy of secular authority. Problems may have arisen when the Pope or bishops, by virtue of a coronation rite, ritually and publicly recognised one ruler over against another. Fallen human nature being what it is, mistakes were made, and Popes and bishops were often manipulated, threatened or even bought. As long as a given ruler had the Pope on his side, he might be able to wave his sceptre over others when it came to disputed territories. The political corruption inevitably led to other forms. A strong Pope or bishop might well resist the threats and bribery, but it took a strong will and stomach, and some paid for non-compliance with their lives (as in the case of Becket) or through enforced exile and even captivity.

Leaving aside the dangers of political and spiritual corruption - because of human weakness and not necessarily because of the doctrine - we still need to ask how far Henry's idea of divine right can be squared with Scripture. If Davidic kingship is fulfilled in Christ, and Christ did not appoint a secular ruler, how can Henry's claim of spiritual headship be justified? To appeal to the Old Testament in this matter is as wrong as appealing to Holy Scripture to justify revenge. The old order changed. The new order is different. There is a strong argument to be put against Henry's exaltation of his own spiritual authority, and therefore an argument to be put against the legitimacy of the Church of England. In the end we can ask by what right, exactly, did Henry usurp the position of the Pope? By right of interpretation? I think this is the answer, and it reveals the Protestant root of the problem. The interpretation of Holy Scripture and the presentation of this as Scriptural truth is precisely at the heart of the problem. Henry's seeking of theological opinion regarding the divorce and the influence of people like Tyndale on his own understanding of royal authority are part of what became a national tragedy which still has far-reaching implications. In Europe we associate the Reformation with "The Diet of Worms"; in England especially, with Henry VIII we are still struggling with a "can of worms".

One of the problems now being faced by some Anglo-Catholics who are tempted to look to Rome is how to deal with long-held opinions and beliefs regarding "Popery" and the necessity of the Reformation in England. We know from our own recent experience that political spin causes more problems than it is meant to solve. Propaganda is not a new invention. I often think about Shakespeare's "Richard III" which is partly based on Thomas More's treatment, in support of the Tudor claim. Recent research has brought more balance to the Richard III debate, and it now looks as though More's portrait was not many miles from the truth. Still, it is a piece of propaganda, and Henry himself was heavily involved in embellishing his own image and acheivements. As the Tudor period advances we go deeper into this kind of illusion and trickery, especially with Elizabeth's re-invention as the "Virgin Queen". We are constantly in search of the truth in all these things, but if we are committed to Christ we must be committed to Truth, whatever the cost. Newman is one of the heroes of the Truth. When we discover it, it really does mean "buying the field" and giving all that we have. Those who truly commit tmemselves to the Truth know what interior peace is. In spite of persecutions, apparent doubts, lost friends and a thousand difficulties, there is always a still centre, and it is like standing on the Rock of Peter's faith.